Making Memories with Family Traditions

Some time ago I promised to share more about last summer’s trip to Innisfail, Alberta. As always when we are with our Wislen and Shaw cousins, the trip was not so much about the travel but about sharing experience as family. While we were visiting cousins Vicki and Allen, a friend brought them  fresh peaches and other fruits that don’t grow on the plains of central Alberta. The fruit was ripe and wouldn’t wait, so we had a canning party!

Hank’s job: peeling peaches
Vicki and daughter Katrina starting the kitchen prep

Barbara and Hank trying to keep up with the kitchen crew

Katrina and her mom celebrate the results of our work with pictures

A tradition when our Canadian family gets together is the evening hymn sing. William is the chief pianist and the rest of us choose the songs. He’s adept at adding fun flourishes to the good old hymns. The beautiful voices blend and harmonize. The television in the corner is mainly used for DVD’s. Who needs tv when you can make your own music?

 Another tradition beloved by the younger folk is the “Root Beer Tasting.” It’s similar to a wine tasting, with overtones of spoofing. Cousin Bill brings the root beer from a Washington state specialty store which sells dozens of varieties of the drink. The objective is to evaluate the different kinds Bill has picked out and decide which are the favorites.

William gets in the mood with a fake mustache, plus extras for eyebrows.

Clarissa, Troy, and Katrina wait to get started.

This takes thought….

and serious consideration!
Too much root beer!

 My favorite part of last summer’s trip was not the beautiful scenery or the places we visited, memorable as all that was. It was being part of a multigenerational family, sharing their faith and their creative goings on. Thanks, Vicki and Allen and all of your family members, for including us!

Creative Gifts for Christmas or Anytime

 Wouldn’t you like to give or receive a collection of personal care products like this? Or tuck something from the assortment into the toe of each Christmas stocking you fill?

My creative stepdaughter Carmen runs a summer farmstand on her Emerald Aisle Farm (the former Hardpan Hill). Besides garden produce and flowers, she offers mini greeting cards, specialty soaps, candles, lotions, lip balms and scented oils…all but the oils handmade. These specialty items are also offered in her Etsy shop: .

(The round tins can hold either candles or Carmen’s own concoction which she calls “Extreme Balm.” The balm is healing and soothing to sensitive or irritated skin. She applies it to her hands before putting on her garden gloves or starting other outdoor chores. My husband says it feels great on his chapped, dry hands.)

Carmen says her Emerald Aisle Farm products are made with pure Washington rainwater☺and other healthy, luxuriant, and conditioning ingredients.  A one pound assortment of soaps sells for $20, one and a half pounds for $28, plus $5.95 shipping for either size. Visit the Etsy shop for other prices, or to order.

 Carmen uses scented oils in many ways, one of them a version of aroma therapy. She says smell the oil first, and if you love it, use it. Adding a few drops to the melted wax at the top of a candle scents the room for hours. (Blow the candle out first before adding the oil, then light it again. Some oils are flammable.) By law the oils must be sent by UPS or Fedex.

Recipe for Emerald Aisle Farm Potpourri:

* Collect plant materials like petals, cones, seed pods, short pieces of thin twigs, mosses from logs or trees.
*Lay out to dry in single layers for two weeks or longer.
*Place in a coffee can with lid.
*Add one dram oil (1/16 ounce) per 1 cup dried material.  Shake it twice daily for a week.
* Add more petals and other materials. Don’t fill the can more than 3/4 full. Shake it daily for two weeks.
*If the scent isn’t strong enough, add more scented oil. The secret to holding the scent is to put it on something with pores, like the sticks or cones.

Wouldn’t it be fun to make potpourri with the kids for gifts?

Watch Carmen’s blog below for more creative ideas.