Friday, October 30, 2020

DIY "Harvest Blessings" Sachet to Print

If you are hosting a Thanksgiving get-together -- if it's allowed where you are living -- you might want to have a little party favor for your guests. And if you're lucky enough to be a guest, it might be fun to bring a little hostess gift along. 

Some don't care for the smell of chrysanthemums, but I love it. It seems so spicy and fresh: Bracing, like the essence of a cold snap.

Use the link to get the full-sized printable stored by Google. If you use the image below, it will be a smaller file and won't print at the proper resolution or size. It's perfectly safe and the link should open in a new window.

It will be just myself and my husband for Thanksgiving this year, and of course the pets. The pets are our lives: Two kitty rescues, and two doggie rescues. Scruffy little things we love beyond belief.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose


Free printable harvest blessing sachet mums

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Rare Hallowe'en Blue Moon Approaches

For the first time since 1944, a full moon visible to the entire world will happen on Hallowe'en night. 

A "blue moon" is the second full moon within a month. Thus the saying, "Once in a blue moon," as that's not a common occurrence. But a full moon visible the world over, instead of just certain sections, that falls on Hallowe'en is much rarer.

I have to wonder about those who were gazing up at the 1944 full moon, back when WWII raged and Hallowe'en was so very different.

Full moons and Hallowe'en bring homemade popcorn balls to mind. I am old enough to remember homemade treats handed out at Hallowe'en. One neighbor made fantastic popcorn balls, flavored with vanilla and studded with cocktail peanuts still wearing their red skins, now coated with hardened sugar syrup. 

Full moons feature prominently on antique and vintage Hallowe'en postcards. Here is one, below.


Antique vintage Halloween postcard with witches and a full moon

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

As Predicted, An Early Snowfall

You may recall an earlier post where I said the nature signs I read showed that we would have an early snowfall, with winter buffeting its way in before autumn had her turn. And that is what has happened, with the earliest and heaviest snowfall on record in my area, and much of the U.S. with unseasonably cold and snowy days.

My seed gleaning has come to a complete stop until the snow melts, and sadly, many of the seeds I've had my eye on will not be able to ripen for next year. I'm glad I gathered as much as I could before this snowy snap.

Lantana blossom in the snow

My lovely fiesta-colored lantana was blooming so beautifully in one of the fire rings I use as planters in my front courtyard. Lantanas love warmth, so it will die to the ground now. I hope the roots survive. I have pine straw from our front pines as a mulch over much of my courtyard. 

Stay warm, wherever you be!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Scary Spider Advertising Card from Yesteryear

Spider webs are made from spider silk, and are very strong. Old lore says that spider webs laid over a cut can stop the bleeding, and heal the wound, preventing infection.

When I was taking Anatomy and Physiology, I eventually noticed that the vast majority of important and active biological compounds seemed to be proteins. So it isn't surprising that spider silk, a protein, is very biologically active. It is also full of Vitamin K, which is used to help stop bleeding and to heal cuts.

Spider webs used for healing is very, very old lore, dating perhaps to the time of Christ. Later, it is even mentioned in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, by the unfortunate weaver, "Nick Bottom." I wonder if Shakespeare meant for one weaver to invoke another.

Here is a turn of the century trading card featuring a jolly giant spider who has easily trapped a tiger with her silk. Spiders were not always as feared as they seem to be today: Once, they were considered quite lucky, and the Germans (of course it's the Germans) even have a Christmas folktale starring a sweet spider who decorates a tree for the Christ Child with her silk. I believe the song "The Little Drummer Boy" to have borrowed the idea of someone (or something, in the case of the spider) with no worldly goods, honoring the birth of Jesus with a humble and heartfelt gesture within their ability to give.

old spider antique trading card sewing

Thank'ee for dropping by.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Monday, October 26, 2020

Urban Gleaning: Seed Saving Time

In my area, this is the time to be gleaning the urban landscape and saving seeds.

I love plants and always look for unusual or beautiful plantings as I go about my life. Beginning in September, I began stopping at various public plantings and noting any seed pods or seed heads. Now I use my notes to return to areas and gather seeds from the sidewalks and streets. 

I am extremely lucky to have access to a very rare fruit tree that had a bumper crop this year. It is a steady seller on Etsy for me. Piggybacking on that rare tree, I have been adding unusual desert plants to my seed bank, and they also are now selling. I expect a big burst of sales in spring, and by that time many traditional plant seeds I've gathered, such as wisteria, will have finished drying, and be ready to plant.

Today I gathered four kinds of seeds within steps of each other: Desert Willow and its orchid-like blooms, Mexican Bird of Paradise with bright red-and-yellow-catch-a-fellow blossoms, Golden Rain Tree (we also called it Golden Chain Tree) with its pink "paper lantern" seed pods, and another lucky find, the Desert Museum Palo Verde with its yellow five-petaled speckled flowers and edible pods.


urban gleaning showing three different seed plants palo verde, mexican bird of paradise, broom

Yes, the Palo Verde has delicious seeds in the pods, much like endame. When green, the pods can be blanched and the seeds eaten plain or salted. They can also be blanched, then roasted with spices. Due to the unusual bloom activity so late in the season, trees have blossoms, fully dried pods and new green pods at the same time right now. With snow flurries expected tomorrow, I think that will end soon!

I am grateful for the bounty these public plantings are providing me, and happy that more people now get to plant these seeds and enjoy the unique plants. I trade seeds in several seed-trading groups, too. Trading is a wonderful way to get seeds you've always wanted, usually for the price of a stamp or two.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Friday, October 23, 2020

Hallowe'en Is Around the Corner

I can't believe how close Hallowe'en is now. My very favorite time of the year!

Last Hallowe'en, B.C.19 (Before COVID-19), I was sitting in my vintage metal porch chair, near my front door, waiting for trick-or-treaters to arrive. The porch light was on, and so were all my Hallowe'en light strings.

A man came quickly through my gate into the courtyard, and up to the front door. When he got to the door, I said, "Happy Hallowe'en." Did he ever jump! I was in plain sight, but I had a cloak and witch's hat on. Perhaps he thought I was one of those "porch sitter" decorations.

It turned out he was running for mayor. I told him a career politician in my courtyard was the scariest thing I would see that night. He was not amused. 

Here is a little old-time poem about Hallowe'en. May your preparations for this Hallowed Eve be going smoothly!

old time halloween poem by the merry needle

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Antique Images on Olde Postcards: Free Autumn Printables

I love the digital window to the world, but I miss snail mail, too. That's one reason I collect ephemera, especially colorful cards and postcards as well as paper dolls.

These are printable digital images based on a scan of an old postcard, with vintage images of autumn added.

Mayhap they will find a place among your decorations and vignettes.

 As always, use the link to pop these up and save them. If you use the preview image in this blog post, it will be too small and not print nicely. The link is perfectly safe and is a Google storage link.

I have some autumn hang tags in the rustic style up in my Etsy shoppe, MerryNeedle. Click HERE to visit the shoppe, or the image up to the right on the sidebar.

And here is the LINK to click: Autumn Postcards a la Yesteryear 

Free printable colorful old time postcards ephemera Victorian autumn

         Kind regards,

        Olde Dame Holly Rose

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

World War II Pyracantha Berry Jelly

pyracantha berries firethorn in autumn fall jelly


Towards the end of the Depression and the advent of World War II, my maternal grandmother and mother would make pyracantha jelly. After the war, she still made it every so often. When I was young, my mother would send me to find and pick the large panicles of elderberries, and to also pick trusses of pyracantha berries. She made more elderberry jelly than pyracantha jelly, but I was more in awe of the pyracantha one. We lived in a new subdivision in New Orleans at that time; it was actually suburban exploration. I would ride my bike for many, many miles, gone for hours, often along the River Road or into Old Algiers, on these errands. Those were different days. 

I was very scared of the large stinkbugs that liked to sit on top of the elderberries, but when sent on an errand, returning without completing it was unthinkable. The pyracanthas meant very sore hands and wrists, because the other name for pyracantha is "firethorn," and indeed their large thorns were quite a painful torment. I had very small hands, so I could avoid many thorns, but not all. I would return with many painful welts.

My mother always said she needed the pyracantha berries not for their flavor, which was bland at best, but for their color. 

During the war, lemons were quite expensive and a treat. This was not an especially cheap jelly for them to have made, due to the cost of the lemon. Sugar rationing also meant this had to be planned for carefully. But the pyracantha berries were free.

Lemons and apple juice were used in my mother's recipe. I have it somewhere, but after this last move, I don't have them "to hand" at present. I do remember that she would seal this particular jelly with melted paraffin, then a lid.

Here is the best I can recall as to her recipe. I do remember that the berries would "pop" when boiled enough, and that she never squeezed or mashed them.

Be careful with any old or untried recipe! Perhaps ask your Cooperative Extension agent -- if they are still extant -- if the recipe sounds safe. Of course, we lived through it, but -- you never know.

Pyracantha Jelly

2 - 3 pounds pyracantha berries
Enough cold fresh water to barely cover the berries
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained (can add more; my mother would often add more to make a more flavorful jelly). Either a big lemon or more than one will be needed.
Apple juice (clear) in case you need extra to make the cooked juice equal 3 1/2 cups
7-1/2 cups sugar
1 package powdered fruit pectin

Wash the berries and remove any stems. Place in large pot (not aluminum). Cover, bring to boil, and simmer about 25 minutes (the berries must "pop their jackets.") You are wanting the juice to be a fine color. Strain juice through a jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth put over a large fine strainer. DO NOT push or press the berries or you will get cloudy jelly and maybe bitter, too. Measure the juice you have. You will need 3 1/2 cups. Add apple juice to the pyrancantha juice, if needed, to make the 3-1/2 cups. Take your lemon(s) and roll them hard on the counter. Roll and roll them, pressing on them, but don't split them. Now they will "let go juice" more easily. Cut in half and get the juice. Add the lemon juice and pour it all into either another clean pot or the pot you were using that you have rinsed.

Stir in the sugar as the juice heats and bring to a good boil, stirring constantly. Skim any additional foam that forms, then add the pectin. Keep stirring and bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, skim and ladle into hot sterilized jars. Top with melted paraffin. Makes about five 1/2-pint jars.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Thimble, Thimble

Luckily, much of my recent needlework has been cross-stitching, created with a rounded, blunt needle. But when I pick up regular embroidery, using pointed needles, I also pick up a thimble from my collection. 

tinware with thimbles inside

My favorite is a simple silver-plated thimble from the 1940s. It's very light. Thimbles featuring advertising were popular in times past.

I have a strange connection between my thumb and my nose, which makes me think there is something to acupuncture. If I jab my thumb with a needle, I get an unpleasant "electrical" tingling in my nose and can smell a very strange scent -- a scent I have never smelled except after a jab. So, does a nerve run from thumb to nose, or from thumb to brain and back down to the nose? 

I have enough thimbles to last the rest of my days. I have been to estate sales where the former owner has several hundred thimbles neatly on display in small cabinets. 

Until tomorrow,

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Monday, October 19, 2020

Lore: The Curfew Bell...

We think of a curfew as a time to retire; as teens long ago, many had parental "curfews" meant to keep them safe and back in their homes, with curfews on school nights much earlier than those on the weekend or in summer. But the curfew bell does double duty, for the world of the living and the world of the unseen...

In olden times, towns and cities often had curfews set by the authorities. The "curfew bell" would ring loud and plain around 8 p.m., warning townspeople to get inside and prepare for bed. Townspeople hurried home, not wanting to be fined or jailed for being out after the last peal of the bell. Shutters, which were working protections at the time, unlike their decorative cousins of today, were hung or unfolded, and locked. Doors were locked as well, and many times so were gates. Fires were banked for the night, and children were put abed. Thus secured, adults sat by the still-warm stove and whiled the rest of the evening away until bedtime.

victorian painting of the curfew bell scared young lady

The curfew bell was a signal that the day was over -- to us in the realm of the living and the mundane. But to the denizens of "the other side," and the magical folk, the curfew bell was a glad sound, indicating they could now go abroad in the night, flitting and frisking until morning. As the last peal of the bell faded away, fairies and ghosts sashayed into the empty streets, until their own curfew sounded -- the first cock crow.

I love folklore, and this time of year, I enjoy scaring myself a bit with the less-upsetting lore. Do you know any low-octane spooky lore?

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Friday, October 16, 2020

Granny's Depression-Era Make Do Clothes Hangers

My maternal grandmother was a woman of many unusual talents. She had played high school basketball before the turn of the twentieth century, yet she also excelled at all the housewifely arts of sewing, keeping a home, cooking, and gardening. She had chickens and a milch cow, and a garden second only to my own mother's in terms of rare and unusual plants. 

She was six feet tall in bare feet, but we never saw her in bare feet. She always wore heels. Even her slippers were tall heels. She said she had worn them for so long that she could not walk in flats. I thought her very elegant in those heels.

Granny was a magician at the art of making do. These clothes hangers were wrapped with long strips of leftover cloth, and decorated with a gathered cloth flower. And this was done during the Depression, when every last scrap was important and was used. She also made braided rag rugs of all sizes, and her sense of color was astounding.

Depression era make-do handiwork cloth

They say interests tend to "skip" a generation: My own mother did not care for such endeavors. Deeply marked by the privations of the Depression and the shock of World War II, she and my father rarely spent money, but they both preferred to buy, in a very limited manner, our home's decor. I grew up fascinated by my Granny's handiwork, though, and spent many hours embroidering and hand-sewing little items in imitation of hers.

In the rush of my most recent move, I had to leave many things behind. All of my padded hangers, laboriously collected from various estate sales over a period of 20 years, were left. I like the slim profile of the old wire hangers, so I think I may try to wrap a few hangers myself now. 

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose