Hello everyone! I hope there are no day-after turkey bellies out there. LOL! Though we did not celebrate in the traditional manner, I made a big batch of pancakes for the kids to enjoy for dinner (with help from the kids) and the smells and the delight of the children really brought some happy childhood memories alive. The fact that the pancakes turned out perfectly didn’t hurt matters, either! I had a great time talking with my mom and dad, and hopefully I’ll catch up with my father and brother over the weekend – there’s a heck of a time difference between western Europe and the US Southwest that makes phone calls difficult to arrange.
The kids have a free day from school today due to a teachers’ study day, so we’re having fun with Play-Doh at the moment. Sinterklaas arrives in Gouda tomorrow, so it’s nice to have a play day here at home. The younger two kids are not quite old enough to get wild about the mere thought of Sinterklaas, and Max is a little too old, so it’s a restful year. Next year, though … A couple of people have asked about the Sinterklaas tradition here in the Netherlands, and I’ll be happy to fill in some blanks during the upcoming weeks. To get you started:
A brief introduction to Sinterklaas
During the year, Sinterklaas (based on a Catholic saint) lives in Spain with his helpers, who are zwarte Pieten (black Petes). Not exactly racially PC, the zwarte Pieten are dressed in Moorish costume with blackface – they’re mostly very comical, though ‘back in the old days’ they would also carry naughty children back to Spain in a burlap sack or would punish the children with bundled sticks. Yikes! Glad I arrived on the scene after that part of the legend was toned down! Anyway, about a month before pakjesavond (December 5th), Sinterklaas and his helpers start over from Spain to the Netherlands in a steam boat. The kids have a chance to start getting wound up good and early! Each year, the good Saint arrives in a different town or city and there’s a huge celebration to mark the beginning of the Sinterklaas holiday period, which culminates in a sort of kids’ party on the evening of December 5th. Our kids have to wait for the day that Sinterklaas arrives in our town before they’re allowed to set their shoes out for a gift – otherwise, there’s a full month of begging and whining. We generally only allow the shoes to be set out on weekends, too, to further curtail the gimmies. ;) Anyway, once Sinterklaas arrives, the kids can set out a shoe at bedtime; during the night, Sinterklaas or one of the zwarte Pieten will set a treat in the shoe that the kids will find upon waking. The gifts are traditionally small, and candy or chocolate (particularly a chocolate initial for your name) is pretty popular. If I don’t forget my brains tomorrow, I’ll be sure to bring the camera tomorrow and share plenty of pictures of the big arrival here in Gouda.
Back to stitching!
I was beginning to think I was seriously cursed when it came to my ONS orders. Not only did I never receive a reply regarding the floss that was held out of my order, but I also received a half meter of linen in the wrong count from another ONS and then a partial order without explanation from yet another ONS. I was ready to throw in the towel!! But yesterday, even though it was a holiday, I received a very friendly reply from ABC Stitch Therapy regarding the linen, and Despina, from Daisy Stitches, searched down some missing orders of charts she’d never received from designers. I just want to say thank you very much to both businesses for their commitment to their customers! And without further ado, here is an embarassing shot of the stash I’ve received this month – be prepared to drool!
Now that you’re all softened up with your own case of the gimmies ;) I must remind you that today is the BIG DAY to order from Jenna’s ONS if you want to take advantage of a whopping 25% off everything! Jenna’s customer service is in a class all its own – she makes each order feel like a personal gift, she keeps shipping prices reasonable, and she’s fast!
To continue with the stitchy goodness, I have also received my completed Quaker RR and I’m just amazed. It’s gorgeous. It’s so much lovelier than I’d ever guessed it would be. I’m definately going to frame this and hang it somewhere where everyone can admire it. I chose Carrie’s Threads and went with a one-over-two on 40 count (or perhaps 36 ct – it’s a mystery piece from Niek’s grandmother) antique white linen. There are a few small motifs that are two-over-two to make it look more antique and irregular and just add to the overall charm. This was such a wonderful group to be part of – thank you all so very much!!! (Please click for the enlargement!)
I did work on Karen’s Quaker RR last night, but realized that I was off by a row somewhere in the last section I was doing – fortunately it’s a very small area that’s affected – but I need to figure out where I went off and do a bit of frogging. You’ll have to wait for a progress picture on it, but trust me when I say it’s a gorgeous piece. I really love Karen’s warm choice of colors. All the Quakers were so fun to work on, and all so different from each other!
The kids have drifted away from the Play-Doh and my stomach is telling me that lunchtime nears, so I’ll leave you for now. Thanks so much for coming to visit with me here – I hope your day is tops, and that you have a wonderful weekend stretching before you!