...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Season's Greetings, Best Wishes for 2013!

Helping paint placemats for our Winter Solstice meal
Our multi-cultural interfaith exploration of the holidays continues as we celebrated the Winter Solstice last Friday evening with my in-laws.  I'd been wanting to have a big Solstice celebration for years and with the way our family schedules worked this year, 2012 was finally the time to do it.  V helped me choose natural as well as a few artificial pieces of greenery and other herbs and berries to adorn our solstice table--each bit symbolizing a different blessing on our household. According to Druid's Herbal, plants are brought into the house at the time of the Winter Solstice to assure the woodland spirits can find refuge during this period of darkness and cold.  Our centerpiece, with farolito borrowed from the Las Posadas exploration, included:

  • Cedar (arborvitae) for cleansing and purity
  • Bay Laurel to bring the light of the sun into the house and ward off illness
  • Chamomile for its ability to soothe and cleanse, for love and purification
  • Frankincense (by way of incense sticks), an antiseptic herb used symbolically to bring purification and protection
  • Holly for protection and to symbolize the coexistence of human and plant spirit and life
  • Juniper for love and protection
  • Mistletoe for healing, peace, and beautiful dreams
  • Oak for healing, strength and wisdom
  • Pine for prosperity, peace, healing and joy
  • Willow to invoke the goddess to achieve desires
Our Solstice table
All the bits and pieces of greenery to bring good spirits
into our home this winter
We enjoyed some traditional wassail, a baked potato bar for dinner (potatoes being a traditional food served at Winter Solstice celebrations), took a starlit walk with the walking sticks V and I had collected weeks before, told stories and opened gifts by candlelight, and sang a few yuletide carols after finishing our Bûche de Noël made by my talented former co-worker at Eat Cake!  I definitely want this tradition to go on.  It was a very special, peaceful evening.

Roasted Apples and clove-studded orange for our wassail.
Gluten-free no less.  So beautiful and yummy!
Is that the North Star on our Solstice walk?
We sat by candlelight and a few string lights for the remainder
of our Solstice evening
These jelly jars come in handy for lots of things.
A little extra sparkle for our Winter Solstice celebration
After presenting V with her Christmas gift--a trip to see The Nutcracker followed by a carriage ride around downtown--we rested then set out early the next day to spend Christmas with my folks in west central Indiana.  It was the first trip to see them since they'd moved out of my childhood home.  I was a bit ambivalent about the visit.  Since it was the holidays I didn't know if I would feel like I was "home."  But by way of their hospitality and the familiar decorations from Wegner Christmases past, I felt just fine.

The Nutcracker at the Milwaukee Ballet
Your carriage awaits...
Just days before Winter Storm Euclid dropped a few
inches on my parents' place V was trying to find any
bit of snow to make an angel. 
My dad's become quite the baker in recent years--taking
after his mother no doubt.  Gramma Lucille would be
extremely proud.
Back home in MKE now, but missed out on the Boxing Day feast I'd planned.  Moved right into exploring Kwanzaa and had V help me collect the items for our centerpiece.  
Making our vibunzi for the Kwanzaa centerpiece
Exploring Kwanzaa this week.  Couldn't find a black candle for our
center unity (umoja) candle.  Trying to use the materials I have.
Today found me receiving an amazing box of uber-fresh starfruit from a friend/neighbor whose family in Florida has a big carambola tree.  I never knew starfruit could taste so amazing.  Just shows that the stuff we find in stores that travels miles and miles isn't worth the price when it tastes like cardboard.  Can't wait to see how I'll use this fruit.  Preserves, dehydrate, juice, salad.  Don't know, but it's reminding me that one other thing I love about the holidays is receiving these special gifts from friends and family from other regions.  My sister-in-law from Alabama has been known to gift us pickled okra from the south as well as fresh kumquats from her grandparents' house in Florida.  It all reminds me of the days when one couldn't get these treats any old time, but perhaps got his or her hands on them around the holidays.  Like oranges in a stocking.  I still think winter citrus is worth waiting for.

Unbelievable flavor!

Looking forward to a low-key New Year's Eve with friends and preparing a meal of auspicious offerings to bring us luck in 2013!  Till then.  Peace to you all.

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