Friday, November 22, 2013

Quick Takes 7

1.  Some of you might have noticed that my Etsy store, Caritas Creations, was on "vacation mode" for a while.  First life interfered, and then I got smacked with a lovely health issue that had me unable to do the work required to get orders out in an even remotely timely fashion.  Rather than not meet my shipping date goals, I decided it was far better to shut up shop, so to speak, until things got resolved.  Which, I'm delighted to say, they have been, so I'm back in business!  To celebrate, I've done two on to find out what they are!

2.  First, I've added a series of dolls to my shop.  I made one for a relative's granddaughter, and the relative kept insisting I ought to put them in my store.  Here they are!

A close-up of this doll's face...because I just love it.  :)

All of these dolls I've pictured have mops of red Raggedy-Ann style hair and red-striped "stocking" legs, and a lot of people have said they really like that!  However, I can also customize hair and eye color to match a particular little girl's, use skin-tone fabric to create the legs, and make the dress any color she might want!  Here's an example, below, of one I made for a friend's daughter recently:

Pretty in pink!

The dolls are $35 each, and take 1-2 weeks to make.  However, as to pricing...see Quick Take 3!

3.  I have a lot to be thankful for this year: a sweet, wonderful husband; good health; a beautiful house; a loving family; sweet friends; financial stability, the dear readers who follow me on this blog; and so many more people and things that I can't possibly list them all.  One of the many things on my gratitude list is my little Etsy store, where I get paid to do what I love to do.  Life really doesn't get much better than that.  As a result, and since Christmas is coming, I'm announcing a sale--a 20% off sale, to be exact!  You don't even need a coupon code; just go to Caritas Creations, browse the selections there, and you'll see the original and the sales price on each item.  Yes, the sale even applies to the higher-priced items in the store.  Yes, that even includes this bit of gorgeousness:

Lace, satin, frilly $96 instead of $120!

The sale is running now through December 15.

4.  On to non-sewing related items...pie!  It's nearly Thanksgiving!  What pies are you all baking?  Me, I'll be making pumpkin, apple, pecan...and mince.  I've blogged before about my love affair with mincemeat.  Mmmm....*wipes drool off keyboard*

A couple of points about pumpkin pie: I always use the recipe on the back of the Libby's can, but I modify it a bit.  I substitute sweetened condensed milk for evaporated milk, and, depending of course on the quality of the spices I have on hand, just about double the spices.  It's superb, if I do say so myself.  Serve it with a little whipped cream (not canned, and not Cool Whip, you heathens!  It takes less than five minutes to hand-whip cream, for pete's sake!), and you might just think you've died and gone to Heaven.  The condensed milk makes it a little richer than most pumpkin pies.  On the spices thing: admittedly, I love cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg, which is why I add so much more of them to this pie, but did you know just how wildly spices vary in flavor and quality from brand to brand?  I sort of knew this but didn't pay much attention to it until a year or two ago when I splurged and bought cinnamon from World Market rather than my usual what's-on-sale-at-the-grocery-store brand.  I was foolish enough not to taste the apple pie filling I made with it before putting it in the oven.  BIG MISTAKE.  That cinnamon was about three times the strength of any other brand I ever used, and that poor pie...well, people were polite, but the cinnamon was so strong that it actually burned going down.  When in doubt, follow a recipe, but use your taste buds judiciously.  Your palate *will* thank you.

5.  Since moving to the Houston area, I haven't found a group with whom I could sing chant.  Our church is just down the street and a lovely parish, but the music...well, I shall be polite and say that it's strictly contemporary, a genre I don't particularly care for and certainly am not interested in singing.  Not having people to sing with was getting me down more than a little the other evening, and I turned on some chant music while I made dinner.  This was probably a mistake, as it meant that I got bluer and more than little homesick as I cooked.  After dinner and in a somewhat miserable mood, I got online in order to browse through some chant resources, figuring that I could at least work on some music on my own, when...bam!  What's this?  A new chant schola forming in my area?  Seriously?  With a rehearsal time that works beautifully with my schedule?  Too good to be true, right?

But I filled out the registration form nonetheless, and heard back just an hour or two later from the director.  I'm going to a rehearsal tomorrow, and I. Can't. Wait.


6.  A couple of weeks ago, DH and I took a vacation to Norway.  Oh, it was beautiful, let me tell you!  We cruised up the coast, saw both fall (in the south) and winter (in the north), crossed the Arctic Circle, and generally had a wonderful and most relaxing time.  My favorite places of all the ones we saw included Alesund, where we climbed a hill which advertised that there are 418 stairs from the base to the top.  If that sounds like a lot, let me assure you that it was actually quite a bit more.  You see, there might have been a mere 418 stairs...but there were long inclined ramps to walk up between the sets of stairs!  The views were worth it, though:

Soooo worth it!

A day or two later, we went to Trondheim, my other favorite place for this trip, and saw the Cathedral there.  Catholicism was illegal in Norway from the mid-sixteenth until the mid-nineteenth century, so it sadly is no longer a Catholic cathedral.  At least it's still standing, though.  So beautiful, so majestic, so medieval.  If you think about it, this church was built at a time when the highest thing most people could aspire to was a) not to starve to death, b) not to die fairly early of all sorts of unpleasant infections and diseases, and c) if they were really lucky, to read.  Yet they dreamed on a much, much bigger scale than most of us ever do in a lifetime, and the cathedrals they built are proof of their determined belief in something so much greater than they that they could only hope to grasp the idea of it through this sort of thing:

(Those last three pictures are courtesy of Google Image search, as photography isn't allowed in the cathedral.)

As wonderful as the trip was, it was just about as wonderful to get home, though.  I love my house, and I love taking care of it and cooking for my husband.  As fantastic as the trip and the food were, walking into my own home at the end of it was the perfect finale.

7.  Today is the feast day of Saint Cecilia!  St. Cecilia being the patron saint of musicians, and W.H. Auden being perhaps my favorite poet of all time, it seems more than appropriate to finish off this episode of Quick Takes with Benjamin Britten's setting of Auden's "Hymn to Saint Cecilia."


In a garden shady this holy lady
With reverent cadence and subtle psalm,
Like a black swan as death came on
Poured forth her song in perfect calm:
And by ocean's margin this innocent virgin
Constructed an organ to enlarge her prayer,
And notes tremendous from her great engine
Thundered out on the Roman air.
Blonde Aphrodite rose up excited,
Moved to delight by the melody,
White as an orchid she rode quite naked
In an oyster shell on top of the sea;
At sounds so entrancing the angels dancing
Came out of their trance into time again,
And around the wicked in Hell's abysses
The huge flame flickered and eased their pain.
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.


I cannot grow;
I have no shadow
To run away from,
I only play.
I cannot err;
There is no creature
Whom I belong to,
Whom I could wrong.
I am defeat
When it knows it
Can now do nothing
By suffering.
All you lived through,
Dancing because you
No longer need it
For any deed.
I shall never be Different. Love me.
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.


O ear whose creatures cannot wish to fall,
O calm of spaces unafraid of weight,
Where Sorrow is herself, forgetting all
The gaucheness of her adolescent state,
Where Hope within the altogether strange
From every outworn image is released,
And Dread born whole and normal like a beast
Into a world of truths that never change:
Restore our fallen day; O re-arrange.
O dear white children casual as birds,
Playing among the ruined languages,
So small beside their large confusing words,
So gay against the greater silences
Of dreadful things you did: O hang the head,
Impetuous child with the tremendous brain,
O weep, child, weep, O weep away the stain,
Lost innocence who wished your lover dead,
Weep for the lives your wishes never led.
O cry created as the bow of sin Is drawn across our trembling violin.
O weep, child, weep, O weep away the stain.
O law drummed out by hearts against the still
Long winter of our intellectual will.
That what has been may never be again.
O flute that throbs with the thanksgiving breath
Of convalescents on the shores of death.
O bless the freedom that you never chose.
O trumpets that unguarded children blow
About the fortress of their inner foe.
O wear your tribulation like a rose.
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.

(Text courtesy of Octarium.)

And that's all for this week, folks!  Stop by Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you found a group to sing with! Let me know how you like it. :)