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Time to show you the fruits of my halloween sewing.                                                 I present to you: Trixie the Halloween Fairy and her cat Moonlight.  When I saw the Trixie drawing on the cover of the book I thought it would be a cinch.  A simple orange tunic, how hard could that be? I could probably find one at Target ready made.   But next thing I knew I was at the .99 cent pattern sale at the fabric store with a pattern requiring 5 yards of fabric and a little girl insistant that there had to be sparkles (Me: are you sure those aren’t polka dots?  Her: Yes, I’m sure).   So I got to experiment with sewing knit fabric, sparkly tule and black satin.  I used Simplicity pattern 3680, which is actually pretty cool because the front shows how pretty much with just a change in sleeve length and fabric selection this could be an equally great Witch/Pirate/Cowgirl or Hippie costume.  I used view A (witch) and made a few modifications including taking about 4 inches of fabric from the sleeves as Trixie wasn’t partial to the “poofyness”.  I also sewed the neck elastic closer to the neck edge (also to reduce poofyness) and omitted the extra “lining layer of fabric in the skirt.  Both the head band with bow (which you can’t really see in the picture)  and headband with cat ears (since the little Mr. doesn’t like hats) were made using the aflutter hairband tutorial by JCasa*Handmade on Sew Mama Sew.  This is a really nice basic fabric hairband pattern and I think I will be making more of these

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 Just as I was getting ready to move on to our next set of celebrations I happened to stumble across these potholders by spookygrrly on ravelry:

 

Which led me to these knit and crochet embellished sugar skulls by Knittygirlie:

and these fab calaca danzante socks by Erssie Major:

Just thought I'd share…

My mother used to make cardamom cake to celebrate 3 Kings day.  Usually we remembered to set out our shoes the night before and sometimes new presents appeared in or next to them the following day.  Other years we would save a present from Christmas and open it then, and still others, straggler presents would arrive, just as the original Kings did, a little after Christmas. 

I’m sure my mother’s cardamom cake was rich with symbolism, seeing as how it made use of spices from the orient and she always was sure to make it in a round bundt cake pan, so as to retain a close resemblance to the traditional oblong dough-nut shaped rosca.  The cake’s traditional round or oblong dough-nut shape makes reference to the Kings’ crowns but also to the circuitous path they supposedly took on their way to Bethlehem in order to avoid King Herod’s Army. 

I also know she just liked to have a traditional excuse to make cardamom cake.  If we had one, she would tuck a plastic infant inside, but was not above stuffing in a plastic telephone or some other small and toy lying about that could be reasonably cleaned and looked like would withstand the heat of the oven.  In this she was also in keeping with tradition: as almonds, coins and beans have also been traditional substitutes for the baby. 

Whoever got the baby got to be King for the day.  In our house, this meant the title and a paper crown, but in other traditional Mexican households being King also came with responsibility; specifically the responsibility of providing the tamales for the next gathering on February 2nd to celebrate Candle mass in honor of the presentation of Christ (you can read last year’s Feb 2nd post for my rantings on Candle mass).  I think the epiphany of January 6th for me was the realization that with a little imagination one could extend the excuse for festivities and merriment all year round.  After all shouldn’t we rejoice in life’s miracles each and every day? 

This is exactly the way 3 Kings day is perceived in New Orleans, where it marks not the end of the Christmas season, but the beginning of Carnival.  Kings cakes are decorated with Mardi Gras colored icing which, in case you didn’t know are: green for justice, purple for faith and gold or yellow for power.  We live in Texas now, but the cake we purchased this year at the Hispanic grocery (for I have yet to purchase a bundt pan) came with a packet of purple, green and yellow Mardi-gras beads. The baby, wears a tiny crown.Kings_001

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Joyeria_011_2One sweet nativity scene (Jesus hasn’t arrived yet)…

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Two views of the Gingerbread house…

A stack of shiny presents…

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16 skeins of Pakucho Cotton… Dscn3037

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One finished sleeve…

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And a box of juicy gourmet pears…

One of the nicest things about the growing darkness… is all the lights!

Trails of lights…

Lights

Tree

Tree lights….

and Tea lights…

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Dscn2894 As always, we have much to be thankful for: family, friends, good health and lots and lots of food…

The Menu:

Tacos al pastor (with pineapple salsa), Asparagus, Rosemary Potatoes, Acorn squash filled with Mom’s famous stuffing, Blue Cheese Apple Salad, Sweet Potatoes, Pineapple Cilantro juice, and homemade Pumpkin pie, yum, yum…

We had some fun decorating the house with halloweeny paper crafts today.  We strung our usual mexican skeleton banners and hung ghosts and bats from the ceiling fan. 

I stuck a bat in our centerpiece for good measure, then looked up to see the shadows of the cut-outs we put in the window dancing across the wall!

I like Fridays, as I think most people who work a regular work week or go to school do, so I think its funny that it would be a Friday that would get branded as the unluckiest of days.  Of course, the most commonly cited origins of the superstition go back long before the formalization of the modern work week (Roman times?).  There are various places you can read about the origins and myths surrounding Friday the 13th (most commonly cited: the Bible, The Knights Templar, negative associations with women and the lunar calendar etc).  I thought www.crystalinks.com/friday13th.html offered a nice summary (with pictures!).

I also learned that Friday is traditionally not a good day to start projects.  I particularly liked the needlework quote below posted on http://www.snopes.com/luck/friday13.asp

"I knew an old lady who, if she had nearly completed a piece of needlework on a Thursday, would put it aside unfinished, and set a few stitches in her next undertaking, that she might not be obliged either to begin the new task on Friday or to remain idle for a day."   (1883)

No one mentioned however, that in Mexico (and perhaps elsewhere?) Friday the 13th is a lucky day.  This may be because of the number 13 special significance in the Mayan Calendar. (And you can begin to read about that here: http://www.caribemexicano.com/eng/mayancalendar/)

So what’s it been for me, definitely lucky!  I received an unexpected raise, and Jorge had an unexpected sale.  May the stars so favor you as well!

Back home the park is filled with flowers, cuttings, palm trees, succulents and miracle grow.  The basket ball court is lined with stacked clay flower pots and mothers grip their children’s hands tightly so they won’t get lost in the crowd or elude their mother’s gaze behind an elephant ear where they’ve paused to sniff the roses.

It is Dia de la Candelaria, day of candle light and purification.  Winter’s half way mark; time to look forward to Spring.  In the United States, crowds anxiously haunt the groundhog’s shadow to see if Spring is soon in coming.  In Mexico they wander the plant market and light the candles, gather to eat the tamales brought by whoever mined the baby from the king cake back in January, and take the nativity scene down.

We took down our nativity scene and most of the Christmas decorations a couple of weeks ago.  We won’t be eating tamales, but I will light candles and my plants (still housebound for the moment) have cast off Winter’s shadow; I think they’ve decided they are ready for Spring.

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I was curious to know more about how the different elements behind Dia de la Candelaria come together, looking forward to and kindling the light of Spring I understand, but what’s this about Mary’s purification 40 days after the birth of Christ and taking Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem.  Why is this significant to Christians, when surely it must have been a Jewish temple?

I found lots of food for thought on this topic in a fascinating article at: www.thisischurch.com/christianinfo/candlemass.html

This well written article provides not only background to the Christian aspects of the holiday, but also extensively documents its pagan influences, alternate celebrations and why historically this has been such a woman centered holiday with special significance for new mothers. (The day was also known as the day of "Thanksgiving for Women after Childbirth"- scroll down to the section on the Churching of Women.)

Altar_1Dia de los muertos has come and gone.  Feels as though, I barely had time to put the altar up and now it is time to take it down again.  We went to a lovely parade and celebration downtown, which included folkloric dances from Mexico with the opening dance being "las bordadoras" (the embroideresses) with each girl holding an embroidery hoop and mock stitching as she danced.  Too bad the photos didn’t turn out better, it was beautiful. 

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This is also the day I have to release my good intentions of frantically knitting for Afghans, as the deadline for shipments this year has officially passed.  I send my good wishes.

My article in black purl is also know officially up, has been up actually for the past few days, but here is the link: