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Wedding Rushnyk Journey

Since the last post that I did on stitching the Ukrainian Wedding Rushnyk, I have made a lot of progress.  Well, to be honest…….I am now totally finished the stitching!  And, I must say, “what a project”.  I do not think I could ever do this again!

Here it is….the last stitch!

Just a bit of a recap here.  On November 6th., 2016, I started cross-stitching a Wedding Rushnyk. Ukrainian Wedding Rushnyk

I kept at it and kept you informed.  Still Stitching !

Take a good look however and see the change I made on the top and lower border.  I decided in the last month to not stitch the roses on the border but chose a less complicated and fewer stitches band design.  It’s not as busy looking but most importantly, I have not been blinded by this project.

 

Seriously.  I found that my eyesight was rapidly deteriorating and I just couldn’t do any more.

My Man helped me out by setting up the brightest lights for me.  I went to see my optometrist and had prescription eyeglasses made.  But I knew that if I didn’t change-up the pattern, I would not be able to complete it.

I chatted with my friends and even my neighbour came over to see what my dilemma was.  She totally agreed with me and helped me choose a complimentary design.  I’m so grateful for her because I was feeling very overwhelmed and had the feeling that I was “chickening” out of my project. Rushnyk update #3

Want to hear what I find really strange?  I completed the very last stitch on My Man and my wedding anniversary.  To my way of thinking, it was meant to be because I sure didn’t plan it this way.  But wait, I was not quite finished yet.

Next thing that I had to do was to wash the entire cloth.  Even though I had washed my hands and kept my work space clean, oil from my hands did get on the cloth.  I had read somewhere that one had to be very careful about washing a project.  Sometimes the colours of the thread bled.  Great, I thought.  The last thing I needed now was to have the red and black colours run into each other.

Once again I asked around to seek advice from anyone who looked or sounded knowledgeable about cross-stitch.  So much information on the internet and some I knew I shouldn’t believe.

It was at my church where I found the best advice.  I knew I could trust these Ukrainian women because they had recently stitched dance outfits for their grandchildren.  Their advice?  Ice cold water for the first wash; ice-cold water for a second wash but add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the water; do not rub stitches or wring out; lay flat on fluffy white towel to dry.  It worked!

This Rushnyk has been stitched with love for my niece.  Even when I felt like quitting, I thought of her and her future husband.  This stitching was very hard at times.

As I stitched, I thought about how hard a marriage can be as well.

Every little step of married life is a journey.  Each day needs to be worked on with great care and kindness to each other.  Just like the stitching of this Wedding Rushnyk, there needs to be a plan and an exciting  pattern to follow.  Of course, just like stitching, there will be knots to untie, threads to untangle and even tears to shed from time to time.  But eventually, a life-long design will emerge.

So here it is!  Once again I thank all of you who followed along with me and encouraged me to keep going, one stitch at a time.  

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Celebrating Each and Every Day

Easter, “Velikdenn” – “The Great Day” is here this weekend and like many of you, I am busy preparing our Easter basket and other foods to share with our family and friends.

When I woke up this morning, I had decided to make a butter lamb for the Easter basket that I would be bringing to church to be blessed.  As I mentioned in an earlier post on Ukrainian Easter, we take a basket of special traditional foods to be blessed and then shared with our family on Easter morning.

As I prepared the ingredients and started shaping the butter into a lamb’s body shape, I thought about the time that my sister-in-law made a lamb for us.

SIL is a very special person in our family and in many ways sometimes seems more Ukrainian than I am.

 

SIL is English-speaking  and did not grow up Catholic.  Now over the years that she has been married to my brother, she has learned some of the Ukrainian language as well as many of the customs and traditions.  She is an amazing cook and I have borrowed many of her recipes over the years.  Her holubsti are so much tastier than mine will ever be !

But I digress.  I started thinking about her and this lamb because a few years back, SIL offered to make My Man and I a butter lamb for an anniversary dinner.  At first, I thought great…it’ll be so yummy.  I love eating lamb but had never seen it prepared like butter chicken (so I assumed).  Little did I know.  SIL laughed and said “No, no.  I’ll make you a butter lamb for your dinner table.  It’s butter and we’ll spread it on our bread and buns.”

She then proceeded to cut into a pound of butter and shape a small animal into it. The animal was a lamb.

Maybe I’m just being nostalgic this weekend but I am very thankful for my sister-in-law and I want her to know it.  I now know how to make my own butter lamb. Thank You SIL!

I don’t think we say we are grateful to our family or friends enough.

As we celebrate this Easter weekend, let’s not just think about the food however.  Let’s think about the wonderful people who share our daily lives.  Let’s celebrate these busy yet fun family and friend times now, each and every day.

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Happy Easter.  Khrystos Voskres.

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Still Stitching !

Since some of you have been wondering how the Wedding Rushnyk embroidery is coming along, I decided to do just a quick little post.

As you are aware, I am learning along the way.  It’s been a long time since I learned how to embroider and cross stitch is even harder for me.  But here it is so far.  I have completed the centre vase area, one bird and one rose.
unnamed-2I stopped stitching about two weeks ago to prepare for Christmas.  I have done a lot of baking and of course a lot of eating.  I guess it’s all a part of the season.  The Christmas dinners and get-togethers have been wonderful, but it’s time for me to get back to the cross-stitch.  I will keep you posted.

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“Manitoba at Christmas”

Greetings to all this Christmas!

I would like to share some exciting news with all of you.

Recently I was contacted by email by Wayne Chan.  This “unknown to me” person asked if I would be interested in contributing a recipe of mine to an anthology that he was putting together.  At first, I was thrilled and thought “Wow, that’s nice.  Someone had checked out my blog and was interested in adding it to his own book?”   I was feeling quite honoured.

Then I became leery.  Who was this person? Was he a legitimate writer?  Was I going to have to send him money and then get scammed?  Ha, I know…sounds silly doesn’t it?  Maybe it’s a generational thing!

Anyway, after finding out that Wayne Chan really was a writer residing in Winnipeg (my apologies to you, Wayne), I decided to trust him and gave him permission to not only reprint my Ukrainian Christmas Eve Holubtsi recipe but also to include one of my earlier Christmas posts “Oh Christmas Tree“.  Check out pages 141 and 179.

In case you are wondering, I preferred to stay fairly anonymous for this anthology and on this blog.  I use a pen name and only my family and close friends know the “real” me.  I am probably way too paranoid, but that’s just me.

I now have no doubts that this request was legitimate because I received my printed copy of “Manitoba at Christmas – Holiday Memories in the Keystone Province”  edited by Wayne Chan,  in the mail.  I am truly honoured.

As I peruse the book I see that he has gathered nearly 400 years of holiday stories and memories of how Christmas was celebrated by Manitobans, past and present.  The book is presently for sale and is available from Wayne Chan and is also being sold at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg, MB Canada R3M 2A6;   Toll Free 1-800-561-1833).

So, if you are still looking for a unique gift….please consider Manitoba At Christmas!

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Ukrainian Wedding Rushnyk

I just received some wonderful news!  It was an engagement and wedding announcement.  My eldest niece is getting married.  I am so happy for her and her future husband.  They are a wonderful couple and I wish them every happiness.

But wait!  There’s more that I can do and I have decided that I am going to include you in this little adventure that I have in mind.  I am going to cross stitch a Ukrainian Wedding Rushnyk for them.

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A Rushnyk is a Ukrainian embroidered towel which symbolizes hope that the newlywed couple will never face poverty or hard times.  I think there is a saying “may the couple never stand on a bare dirt floor”.

During the wedding ceremony in church, the rushnyk is spread on the floor in front of the altar.  Traditionally it was said that whoever stepped on the cloth first would be the head of the family.  However now a days, most grooms hesitate just a second and let their bride step on it first.

The rushnyk is also used to bind the hands of the bride and groom during the ceremony to signify their union.  The priest leads the couple around the altar three times.  This procession symbolizes that marriage is a never-ending journey led by Christ. These are the first steps that the couple will take as husband and wife.

So I have decided that I will take my first steps too and cross stitch a rushnyk for them.

No, I have never taken on a project like this before.  When growing up at home, I did not learn how to cross stitch.  However, I was taught how to embroider by my mom.  Take a look at these tea towels and pillow cases.

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Not bad for a little girl, right?

I am hoping that I will get your blessings and encouragement as I take on this project. I am teaching myself how to cross stitch right now and would like to share this journey with you.

I have everything I need and I have just started!  Here are my first stitches.  I’ll update you in a little while.

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Wish me luck….this adventure of mine cannot become a never-ending journey for me!  I have eight months until the wedding.  But just in case I do not get it finished in time, please…do not tell my niece and her fiance that I am doing this for them.

 

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Another Summer, another CNUF!

 

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When I was working out of my home, I dreaded the beginning of August because it meant that work would be starting up in just a few weeks.  So long to relaxing at home, having late night Summer barbecues and just lazing around the house.  No, August meant it was time to do everything in and around the home during the Summer that never got looked at during the busy school year.

Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival has always been a highlight in the Summer.  My Man and I had so much fun at last year’s 50th celebration.  So much to see and so much to do.

Villagers from the Selo

Villagers from the Selo

Ukrainian Old Timers band from Winnipeg

Ukrainian Old Timers band from Winnipeg

CNUF Riding & Dancing Cossacks

CNUF Riding & Dancing Cossacks

However, this year, the 51st, was just not the same.  Not sure why.  Perhaps it was the fact that there was a fire in the Mall and the festival office was destroyed last year. Lots of great displays and priceless artifacts are gone.  Is that why they had so many competitions?  Perhaps it was the lack of participants in these events like the pysanky and kolach demonstrations.  Perhaps it had something to do with the organising committees.  Lots of new faces.

Now I’m not knocking the fact that everyone tried their best and many people worked very hard at this festival.  There was something missing however.  I’m actually quite concerned that there are not enough “old timers” involved in steering the direction that the festival now seems to be taking.

Now don’t get me wrong either.  Encouraging a younger executive and board members to get involved is good if you want to keep this half century old festival going.  New blood is needed as some would say.  However, there appears that not enough people involved really understand what it was like to come to Canada so many years ago and start-up a new life.

I do hope that the Board of Directors and the City realise that pioneers and their stories of their struggles are needed at the festival to keep the spirit of the Ukrainian culture at the centre.  People travelled many miles and had to work together to clear the land, build homes and support one another through some very harsh times.  Working together and team work was essential back then.  It’s needed now for the festival as well.

Pioneer barn

I wish the people of Dauphin and especially the CNUF organization all the best because I want to be able to attend the 75th CNUF celebration.

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Celebrating 90 Years !

This coming weekend, a very dear special man is turning ninety years old.  Many people will have a birthday this weekend, so why is this 90 year-old’s birthday worth mentioning in my blog?  You may be asking, who is this special man ?

This special man is my mom’s brother, Uncle Matt (aka Uncle Floor Mat).  Uncle Floor Mat is my special nickname for him.  Now don’t be appalled.  There was and still is no disrespect intended in this title.  The name “Uncle Floor Mat” started out when I was only around 2 and a half years old; totally appropriate for a toddler.  I really think it’s a small town Ukrainian thing that was done as well;not really sure.  It was however a playful greeting that he actually encouraged.  Uncle had a nickname for me too.  Ready for this?  It was Petroonka.  In fact it still is whenever we get talking on the telephone or have family visits.

Unfortunately distance keeps us apart this upcoming weekend and I will be unable to share in his special birthday celebration.  In lieu of a visit however, I included a letter with my birthday greeting card that I sent off in the mail.  It was my cousin’s wife who prompted me to write a note about what Uncle Matt has meant to me all of these years.  She is collecting and wrapping up “love” letters from his family and friends.  In fact, she even included some sentence starters to help get the old grey cells jelling!

  • You are special to me because…
  • I value ______ about you because…
  • I really love _____ about visiting you place because…
  • Over the years you have taught me …
  • I love _____ about you because…

Even before I had these great sentence starters, I had decided that a Thank You letter was needed.

I would like to share this letter and my thoughts about my uncle with you.  Why you might ask would I want to share something so personal?  Well, just maybe when you read my letter, you will be inspired to write to someone who is special to you too.  Perhaps you will thank them for being a special part of your life.  Celebrate the people you love now!  I love my uncle and want him to know it!

Happy Birthday Uncle Matt!

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Dear Uncle Matt,

I hope you enjoy your birthday with your family and friends.  I am glad that you and I were able to celebrate “you” this past Summer when I was at the Ukrainian Festival.  It’s very good that you can still keep up with me when we do vodka shots together! Ha, ha.DSCN3262

Not only do I want to say Happy Birthday to you but I also want to say Thank you to you for being a kind and caring uncle to me all of these years.  When we were growing up, my mom used to say that we could always depend on you.  Whenever we needed any help, you were someone we could count on.  

Do you remember when you used your big caterpillar to plow out our driveway and you made us kids a huge mountain of snow to play on?  We had so much fun that Winter.

Do you remember when we were at a family wedding and you said that I needed to learn how to dance a really fast polka?  You taught me well and yes, I can still keep up with you…but just barely.

Do you remember the time when I was only 3 years old and you held my hand at my sister Emily’s funeral? You told me not to cry, not to fuss but to be strong because my mom and dad were very sad.

Do you remember when my mom passed away suddenly in 1979 and once again, you told me that I needed to be strong for my dad and to take care of him?

Maybe it has been those words “be strong” and “take care of” that I heard from you that have stayed with me all of these years.  You see, I am a strong one.  I do stand up for injustices and do take care of others.  I have taken care of myself too.  I completed university, had a successful career and raised a great family.  I know that a lot of this encouragement and influence has not only come from my own parents, but also from you.  Thank you.

You and I have shared a lot of laughs and good times.  I wish you happiness and good health so that we can continue to share many more fun times.  Before we know it Uncle, we will be celebrating your 100th Birthday!

So on this birthday, please know that you are loved and you are my very special uncle. In fact, you may be my favourite…but just don’t tell my other uncles.

                                                                                                             Love,

                                                                                                           Petrosha

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