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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Decorating with Simple, Natural Materials

I have always loved using natural materials to decorate the seasons with...gathering bunches of budding twigs in Spring, or early-blooming bulbs; gathering sand and seashells and filling canning jars and vases with them during summer trips to the beach; clipping branches flying with autumn colors, toting pumpkins inside, and piling up gourds in a bumpy heap for fall; and for winter, gathering pinecones, holly, pyracantha branches heavy with red-orange fruit, bare twigs, and fir, juniper, and pine boughs.

themerryoldedame juniper and pinecones closeup winter decorations


I think pinecones and holly are my very favorites for winter, at least up until the eve of Twelfth Night. It's also called the Feast of the Epiphany. On January 5th, the eve, ALL greens gathered for Christmas must be burned! Every needle, every twig! I'll write more about that obscure holiday later. It's one of my favorite holidays and absolutely steeped in lore.

For now, I have quite a few wooden boxes and baskets filled with pinecones from my trees. I have no fir trees in the yard, but I do have a very old, very spare and gnarled juniper that makes its tiny cones and drops a few fragrant green boughs around this time of year.

Do you have a favorite natural material for the Yuletide season?

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame

Monday, November 16, 2020

What IS Primitive Style, and New Holiday Tags Up in Shoppe!

I spent a lot of time this past week prepping my new holiday tags for my Etsy shoppe, TheMerryOldeDame. I love making digital images to print, and I lean towards the primitive style. But I love almost any kind of illustration style. Back when I worked for Hallmark, I would spend literally hours just staring at the incredible array of design styles. 

themerryoldedame etsy shop printable digital tags


My husband can't stand Hallmark. He condemns their designs as cheesy, intrusive, silly, and unattractive. If I buy a card for him, he flips it over and scowls in case it's Hallmark. So, it's American Greetings for him. I like some of the Leanin' Tree designs, but most of them (pseudo-country folk style) I find appalling and coarse. I do not find the trope of the skinny, pot-bellied, whiskered old broken-down cowpoke in his red long-johns very amusing, nor his female counterpart, the square-dance skirted old fat gal squeezing the life out of him with a big toothy grin and red cheeks. I am glad Hallmark has so far avoided the "Cowpoke/Country Bumpkin" motif.

Now, this is something I go round and round with, with my prim friends: Primitive does not mean dirty and broken. At least to me, it doesn't. Aged, a bit grungy, like a mirror that has an aged and flaked backing, yes. People find very old, uncared-for "primitive" items and mistake those items as representing prim style. Originally, those items were not broken. They were not dirty. They worked. They held water. They opened and shut. They were NEW. The primitive STYLE, in my very humble opinion, is one done simply, in a naive way, with the materials of the day, AND the better-quality mass-produced items of the times, such as crocks, churns, "Hoosiers," etc. Project your mind back in time: Originally, these things were new. The colors were even, and they weren't all drab, by any means. It's not my business, but sometimes my eyes almost pop when I see people with some rusted out, broken, dry-rotted THING dragged into their nice clean house.

One area where extremely grungy and unpleasant-looking items might be true to the original primitives is in the area of dolls and stuffed animals. I recall that Laura Ingalls Wilder had only a little corncob "baby doll" to love for quite some time, before getting a rag doll she loved intensely. And my aunt had a very aggressive-looking rag doll, as well, with its teeth bared and beady eyes, that she had doted on. 

That isn't to say I don't treasure a lot of old items just for their age and history! I do! I guess that Tasha Tudor and Colonial Williamsburg are more in line with what I think of as primitive style. But to each their own! If it brings joy, embrace it!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Gorgeous and Delicious Unusual Pomegranate Jalapeno Avocado Relish

Friday the 13th, in 2020. Be careful out there.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Many will not be having family get-togethers due to COVID restricting travel and visiting, but if you get a chance to make this recipe, your family will love it! If they serve dip in Heaven, this will be there.

I got this from a co-worker years ago, in the pre-avocado toast days. It was even more unusual then. 

Sorry for the quality of the photo. It dates from years back, too. This first appeared on my old blog, Penniwigs.

I named this blog "The Merry Needle," to reflect my love of cross stitching and freehand embroidery, but I never seem to have time to pick up a needle anymore. Maybe once the holiday season settles in, I will be able to share some of my designs and handiwork. Sitting in a snug chair, Hallmark movie playing, cross-stitching in hand - now, that is truly heavenly!

pomegranate avocado dip relish

picture of pomegranate relish avocado


Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Lothlórien from Lord of the Rings

I was a Lord of the Rings admirer as a young teen. I was always a bookworm, and after reading and rereading all of the Walter Farley horse books, and Marguerite Henry's horse books, and the Little House and Anne of Green Gables series, I borrowed a copy of "LOTR" from one of my older brothers, and was smitten. I read it, reread it, and really haven't stopped reading it since. I'm not sure why it resonates with me, but I think I like the idea of lore and wisdom being important in a society. I also like the idea that an individual's bravery and loyalty in what might seem like small things, is elevated and understood to be valiant.

lotr lothlorien silver wood golden leaves pecan lore


I live very near the world's largest pecan grove, and when the pecan leaves start turning yellow, the area looks, to me, like the fabled Elven wood Lothl√≥rien in the book. 

I love to drive through the orchards during fall. Actually, I love the drive any time of year. The pecans are falling already, and they will soon be harvesting. Here, they do not try for the Christmas market. Our pecans bear later than Southern groves and are harvested too late for the holiday market. But they travel all over the U.S. and the world. The sister farm to the one here is in Australia -- and is the second-largest in the world. Funny how in the middle of the desert, pecans thrive, if given good river water.

And here is some pecan lore! If you have ringworm, take the green husk of a pecan, cut or break a piece off, and rub the juice on the ringworm area. It will cure it. However, pecan "juice," like walnut juice, will stain your skin, nails, and hair quite badly, and you have to just let it wear off. Boys with crewcuts were forever getting ringworm when I was in elementary school, and they often sported the yellow-brown stain of a pecan husk. But if faced with ringworm and no way to cure it, as it was before fungicides became available, I would definitely use the green husk. This spring, get a few green pecans and store them in your freezer, just in case! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

11-11: Veteran's Day

November 11, which can also be written 11-11, is Veteran's Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in what was the British Empire. 

11-11 is sometimes referred to as "Philosophical Time," as well. Some believe that  unusual things happen more frequently at 11:11 than can be explained by chance or coincidence, and indicate synchronicity (meaningful coincidences that are not actually "just" coincidences). Some claim that glancing at a clock right at 11:11 is an auspicious sign. I knew a philosophy major in college who stopped his then-new and modern "digital flip clock" right at 11:11.

I'd guess things happening at 11:11 is more a curiosity than anything connected on some strange level, but who knows?

Regardless, I am glad there is a day devoted to recognizing and thanking veterans for their service. I wish the world had already reached a point where military service would be a very rare and perhaps ceremonial occupation, but we are not there yet.

If a veteran is reading this, "Thank you for your service."

veterans day image flags old glory

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Bonfire Season


bonfire in a firepit the merry needle


We are rushing headlong into the holiday season. Where before I would get the side-eye from friends and neighbors with my early decorating, now even I am lagging a bit behind. The stress of COVID, perhaps, is the cause of this early celebration and festooning.

For me, for both practical and inner reasons, I am trying not to buy more decorations this year. I do go prowl eBay, enraptured by the results of my "vintage Christmas blow mold" search, but I haven't bought anything, or even bid on anything. I used the lights I already have outside in the front courtyard, and they make a goodly show.

Instead, I am making quite a few bonfires to mark the season. We had a big dead tree in the corner of the yard when we moved in this home a year ago, and the people who cut it down kindly chopped up a large portion of it into firewood. So I'm using that to make my bonfires in a little firepit that was left by the previous owners. 

Bonfires go deeply into Christian history, having been an important aspect of Yuletide and even before, and resonate strongly with me. Perhaps it's from being raised in Louisiana, and seeing the bonfires along the levee, stretching out of sight, as a child on Christmas Eve. But it feels deeper than that, somehow. I'm afraid there are quite a few bonfire pictures in the future of this blog!

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame

Monday, November 9, 2020

Just My Cup of Tea

Here is a little printable that would be cute tied to some honey straws, a vintage  teacup, a box of teas, or little infuser and given as a small token of appreciation during the upcoming holidays. It has a sappy poem and a lovely Victorian image of a flower-filled teacup.

When I taught school, I was given so many sweet gifts. Many of them were mugs, and I think I have one of them left. One of my very most favorite gifts was a single, small bottle of "Mexican Coke," which is the Coke (of which I am extremely fond) sweetened with cane sugar. They used to be very hard to find, but I think I saw a six-pack of cane-sweetened Coke in Walmart the other day. 

As usual, click on THIS LINK HERE to download the full-sized file stored in the Google Cloud. If you just save the image below, it will be too small and will not print nicely.

free printable tea gift card hostess


    Kind Regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame


Thursday, November 5, 2020

"Set Awhile" by this Animated Olde Stove

Ah, I am late posting today. When my schedule gets cattywampus, I have a very hard time righting it. It takes great effort. I envy those who with more flexibility of will and mind than I seem to have. Between having a room tiled and the Presidential election, my days (and nights) are awry. What I need to do is settle down, maybe in front of the fireplace.

I have a fireplace that is part traditional fireplace, and part kiva, in my kitchen area, and while I'm grateful to have it, I really want to get an old potbellied stove for the corner of our living area. To me, nothing says "cozy" like a wood-burning stove.

Then again, a coal-burning stove has its own charm. I happen to like the smell of coal burning, but not as much as I love a wood fire. But a cold coal stove -- that smell is so lonely.

Thank'ee for stopping by! To save the animation below, right-click on it and choose Save or Save As. Then it will download to your own computer.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame




Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Few Little Animations for You

Thanksgiving animations are not as popular as some holidays. So, I have just one pilgrim girl walking to offer, along with some cozy candle ones. They can be placed on your own blog, on Facebook, in an email, etc. 

These are small enough so that you can just right-click and save them directly! No need for any links this time.

I hope you enjoy.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame!








Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Free "Jar" Hostess Gift Tags for Thanksgiving

I don't know what will be happening around Thanksgiving this year. Perhaps no one will be visiting for the holidays, but if they do...here are a few printable decorations to celebrate the upcoming feast. They would be pleasing tied onto a real jar filled with something good or interesting, like a cookie mix, honeyed pecans, homemade spice mix, and so forth.

As always, click on the LINK under the preview image below to save the file for printing. It's saved in the Google Cloud, so it's perfectly safe. The link pops up a new window. If you can't see the pop-up, you likely have that blocked and will have to "manage pop-ups" in your browser settings. If you save the little image below, it won't print right. USE THE LINK!

Thank'ee for stopping by!

free thanksgiving printable rustic prim pilgrims turkeys gift tags decor

 

LINK IS HERE! *Click*

Monday, November 2, 2020

And We Roll Towards Thanksgiving!

My Hallowe'en decorations are safely tucked away, and Thanksgiving and Yuletide touches are now begin placed in the house, with full Christmas lights going up outside. And on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the honeycomb turkeys and harvest items will be put away, too, and the entire house will be changed over to exclusively Christmas/Winter/Holidays!

I have notice a trend this year, probably because of COVID-19 and the feeling of bleakness that has gripped the U.S.: Christmas is being embraced much earlier than usual. For once, the stores are lagging behind the consumer. We want Christmas! 

It reminds me of the dear song, "We Need A Little Christmas" from the play Mame. The song was written by Jerry Herman:

Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now
 
For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window
Carols at the spinet
 
Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
It hasn't snowed a single flurry
But Santa, dear, we're in a hurry
 
So climb down the chimney
Turn on the brightest string of light I've ever seen
Slice up the fruitcake
It's time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough
 
For I've grown a little leaner
Grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder
Grown a little older
 
And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder
I need a little Christmas now
 
Haul out the holly
Well, once I taught you all to live each living day
Fill up the stocking
But auntie Mame, it's one week past Thanksgiving Day now
 
But we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window
Carols at the spinet
 
And we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
It hasn't snowed a single flurry
But Santa, dear, we're in a hurry
 
So climb down the chimney
It's been a long time since I felt good, neighborly
Slice up the fruitcake
It's time we hung some tinsel on that mayberry bough
 
For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window 
Carols at the spinet
 
And we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
We need a little Christmas now
We need a little Christmas now
We need a little Christmas now
 
Yes, I need a little Christmas now, but I also love Thanksgiving! So here are some FREE printable rustic tags celebrating that wonderful holiday. Check out my rustic and shabby Printable Tags and Postcards that I'm putting in my Etsy Shoppe, MerryNeedle, this week, too!
 
As always, CLICK THE LINK RIGHT HERE to download the full-sized, correctly printing file, stored over in the Google Cloud. It's perfectly safe! A new window should pop up, so make sure you allow pop-ups. If you don't know how to do that, here is the link written out, so you can copy and paste it in your browser address bar: https://drive.google.com/file/d/19htV_wmd8Z2qYBiS_p42SuMQXgI4ag0n/view?usp=sharing
 

 
 
    Kind regards,
    Olde Dame Holly Rose