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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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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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.


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.


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.


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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It is 33 years since My Man and I married!  We often comment to one another that it seems like only a few years ago that we met.  I still see My Man as a strapping young 30-year-old.  And it’s only when I stand in front of my mirror that I see that I’m not the “young thing” that he married!  Wait a minute! Young thing?  Not according to what our marriage license said.

Let me take you back to 1983.  It was a beautiful Spring morning and My Man and I went down to the local Notary to obtain our marriage license.  It was a pretty easy step.  All we needed was our identification and birth certificates.  All was pretty straight forward.  My Man was referred to as “bachelor”.  But to our surprise but mostly to my surprise was the term that was used to describe me….a “spinster”. Yes. There it was in print.  I was described as a “spinster”.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes a spinster as “Unmarried (especially elderly in popular use) woman” .

When I was growing up, anyone who was a spinster was well…really old.  You know like over the age of 30.  But I wasn’t anywhere near that age!  My Man and I had a good laugh over that one.

I wonder if any of that wording of spinsters and bachelors has changed over the years.  The word marriage has taken on a whole different meaning.

Now a days marriage between a man and woman is becoming a rare thing.  Many younger couples have partnerships.  There are many non-traditional arrangements and same-sex marriages.  Times have certainly changed.  Come to think of it…I think I rather prefer the old ways.  I can probably even get used to that word…spinster!

Happy Anniversary My Man!

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The Uninvited Guest

I was going through some old photos yesterday and came across one of a raccoon eating ice cream at our wedding reception.  I’m sure that you have a box or three of old photos that have been stored in shoe boxes!  If you do not, well done.  However most of my friends do and I am guilty of this as well.  One day!  Yes, one day I’ll get them into photo albums.

But I digress.

This one photo of “the uninvited guest” reminded me not only of our wedding, but of going to Ukrainian weddings when living in my village in Manitoba.

I remember starting to attend weddings when I was about 5 years old.  Our parents would get an invite in the mail.  Written right on the envelope was my parents’ name with  “& Family”.   That’s what we did back then.  The whole family was invited.  No one worried about the cost per plate.  No one counted the guests as they came in the door.

We had no babysitters.  As children, we went to the church ceremony, the dinner reception and to the evening dance.  Our parents ate, drank and danced until 2:00am.  And we did too!  No, not drinking…the eating and dancing part!  When we got sleepy, we went to the car and slept in the backseat of the car until our parents were ready to go home.

As I got older, I started to attend weddings as “a guest of” my friends’ parents.  Yes, we were probably the first wedding crashers.  I recall one particular time when Marilyn, my best friend, and I went to a wedding with the local high school’s secretary.  It was okay, really because the secretary was invited and she asked us if we wanted to come along.  She knew that Marilyn and I loved to dance to Ukrainian dance music.

When it’s a cold winter’s night on the Prairies, doesn’t it make sense that young people gather together in a warm, safe place and do some dancing and being sociable with one another?

Looking back, I guess it was not nice to go uninvited. But there was no harm in it. We didn’t cause any damage or hurt anyone. It was good clean fun.  Getting together should bring out the best in us.

Gatherings at concerts, hockey and soccer games and dances are safe, happy places.  Well, at least they used to be when I was younger.  Getting together should also be safe today as well.

With the recent events in Paris, going out at all is making everyone in our country and around the world scared and thinking twice.   The “uninvited guest” takes on a whole different meaning.

My prayers go out to all in Paris!   Vichnaya Pamyat!


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1979 and berry picking time!

The year was 1979.  It was a year of many changes.  In March, my mother had died suddenly.  I changed my hairstyle by cutting off about 15 inches of my long hair.  I quit my job and moved to another province that year.  My best friends got married.  So many events all packed into that one year.

So what has caused me to recall these events?  Believe it or not…it’s raspberries!



I picked raspberries yesterday and today, I am sitting here enjoying a bowl of freshly picked raspberries with my Greek yogurt for breakfast. A flood of memories with every delicious spoonful.


But wait!  Stop the flashback!  Yogurt?  Yogurt in our house in 1979?

No way…not yogurt with my delicious berries.  Back then, I ate raspberries with sweet, thick, fresh farm cream.  Yes, cream that was separated and skimmed off the top of cow’s milk.  It tasted sweet and was so thick that my spoon could stand straight up in it.

My parents would order a quart jar from a local farmer once a week.  Back when I was younger, no one worried about having the wrong kind of cholesterol or having too many calories.  No, we just enjoyed the taste of fresh local products.

Come to think of it, maybe I should have been more concerned about the calories.  Now that I really think about it, it’s actually quite embarrassing. Let me backtrack a bit and tell you why I shouldn’t have eaten so many of those dishes of raspberry with cream breakfasts.

My best friend, Deb, was getting married at the end of July in 1979.  Deb and her fiancé Wayne had been high school sweethearts and by the time all of us had graduated from university, they had been dating for over 7 years. They were (and still are) a perfect match and I was honoured to be one of their bridesmaids.

So in April, Deb called all of her attendants up and told us that she had decided that we would all wear matching dresses.  Because we were all predominantly the same height and size, the dresses would be a style that we could all wear again after the wedding.  Deb was very practical that way.  She had picked out the colour and purchased a size 8 pattern.  The dresses were going to be homemade.  Luckily for her sisters, Deb’s mom would be able to sew their dresses.

Oh, oh!  What about me?  Now between my being a past 4-Her and having had a mom who was always there to help me if I needed her to before, I could sew.  However, I was now working full-time.  How was I going to get a dress made in time?  Who could I call on to help?  Luckily for me, I didn’t have to worry for long. Deb’s mom offered to make my bridesmaid dress as well.  It was all going to work out.  By the end of May, we had our final fittings and everything was all set.

You’ve probably guessed by now that my raspberry and rich creamy breakfasts in June and July could create a problem.  Well, you are right and they did lead to a bit of weight gain for me!

On the day before the wedding, my bridesmaid dress did not fit.  Yes, I had gained a full inch around my waist!  I was devastated at the time and totally embarrassed.  Deb’s mom saved the day once again.  Even though she was busy doing other last-minute things for the wedding, she got out her sewing machine and altered my dress.

This month, as we celebrate Deb and Wayne’s 34th. Wedding Anniversary, we can look back and laugh about my embarrassing fiasco, but we also reflect on their many wonderful years of married life together and our true friendship between friends!

Oh and let’s not forget…my love of delicious raspberries and cream!

Happy Anniversary Deb and Wayne!

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One week away from Easter…are you ready?

imageIt’s a busy time around our house right now.  It’s always been a tradition in my family to prepare well in advance for the “big day” , велйкдень.  We’ve been writing the pysanky, making the paska and I have even started baking some of the delicious Easter foods.

imageToday I am making Nalysnyky and I have attached a few photos.  These are savory, made with cottage cheese.  Check out my recipe on my pages and see all of the step by step photos!

As you know,  I am taking Ukrainian language lessons.  It’s been so much fun and I am learning a lot.  My classmates are a great bunch and many of them are from Manitoba and Saskatchewan.  It’s interesting to hear the different words that we grew up with.  For instance, here’s an example.  The Ukrainian word for car is машена.  Так ?  Well when we heard our instructor say this…we all looked at each other and said, “isn’t it гара (gara?).  So many different dialects!

I still have a lot to learn.  I need to work on possessives, plurals and conjugating my verbs….but truth be told, I actually understand more than I give myself credit for.  Now if I can only get my tongue twisted around some of those letters and their sounds!


In class tomorrow, we will be having a pot luck and I will bring in some baking as well as the nalysnyky.  I have made some dove buns!  I hope someone brings some good old-fashioned kolbassa!


Ukrainian Weddings

On this day I will marry my friend, 

the one who shares my dreams, my life, my love…


Weddings are joyful events and can be a lot of fun.  No matter what culture, ethnic, religious or social group, weddings are ceremonies where people are united in marriage.  Traditions and customs may vary but this special event is a public profession of love by which a man and woman commit themselves to each other for life.  “It is a contract, a covenant, and when it is done in faith and in the presence of a priest, Christ’s representative, it is a sacrament: a mystery, a sign of God’s continuing activity among us.”

Okay, before I lose all of you, I want to explain why I am writing about marriage at this time.

In the last few days, I have been reflecting on the “sacrament of marriage”.

As many of you are aware, My Man and I celebrated our 30th anniversary this year. We were married in the Ukrainian Catholic church and have wonderful memories of family and friends sharing our day with us.  The Sacrament of Marriage to me as it is to many Ukrainian Catholics is a renewed life together in Christ.

It was an honour last week to attend a wedding of a young couple just starting out on their married life. This couple, Jen and Shawn, had a civil ceremony a few years back but Jen has always wanted to have “a church wedding”.  Well, actually, it still wasn’t a ceremony held in a church, but it was a Catholic service.  This celebration was made even more special because Jen’s uncle, an ordained Ukrainian Catholic priest, performed the ceremony.  It was a lovely gathering of relatives and friends.

I was asked to make the wreaths, or “crowns” for the young couple.


These crowns, made of periwinkle, are placed on the heads of the bride and groom. They amplify the meaning of the rings that encircle their fingers. The couple’s hands are joined with an embroidered cloth (rushnyk) to signify their newly forged union.  The joining of their hands reflects the joining of their hearts.


The couple’s hearts, heads and hands must work together in love. This is a high point of the ceremony. When the priest removes the crowns, he’ll ask for a blessing “Receive this couple’s crowns into your Kingdom”.  Symbolically, this marriage will grow into a perfect love which alone can only come from God.  Mnohaya Lita Jen and Shawn !

If you are interested in knowing more about Ukrainian wedding ceremonies in Canada, you may wish to check out a few of these websites that I found.

Growing up, my recollections of Ukrainian weddings are not so much about the ceremony but the wedding receptions and the Vesillia (весілля) that followed.  Whenever my parents or even my friend’s parents were invited to a wedding, we all went.  I think that’s why some Ukrainian weddings had well over 300 guests.  Everyone knew someone so they would go, personal invitations not necessary.  “…oh yes, the bride?  She is the daughter to Aunt Olga’s second cousin’s niece…sure, I know her!”

No one hired babysitters back then either. Everyone came, no matter the age. I recall sleeping in the backseat of our car with my sister and brother, while our parents danced the night away.

I also fondly recall a couple of my uncles who loved to go up to the bar once or twice during the evening.  I think this helped them rehydrate after dancing the vibrant polkas, hopak, or kozochok. My Uncle Metro taught me to do a whirlwind polka with him but he also taught me how to cool off with a vodka shot!  But that’s another story!

At some point at any Ukrainian wedding, I recall that a funny thing would happen.  The band would play only a few notes.  But my uncles, aunts, cousins, in fact almost everyone would actually leave the tables and the bar and form a large circle on the dance floor. This was a sure sign that a kolomeyka would begin. The kolomeyka is a traditional Ukrainian dance that features a medley of leaps, kicks, and spins. I’ll leave you now with a couple of links if you’ve never seen this dance.

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Summer time !

Festivals, barbecues, camping, weddings, travelling…all Summer time activities!

It’s  been a busy but beautiful, sunshine filled Summer.

In fact, so busy that I haven’t posted for over a month. I apologize to my followers. I appreciate you and hope that you have had a busy yet relaxing Summer as well and will continue to check out my blog and see what’s new.

0The CNUF 2013 was a great success and those of you who made it out to the festival in Dauphin, Manitoba were so fortunate. The weather was perfect, the entertainment was phenomenal and the hospitality of the people from Dauphin was as usual… fantastic. There’s just something about the music, the dancing and the food at the festival that brings out the best in everyone, Ukrainian or not!

It has also been a great Summer for weddings!

Congratulations to all newly married couples out there!  So nice to see so many couples believing in “’til death do us part”.

There seems to be an increasing number of  couples today wondering what’s so special about marriage. Some do not see the need.

It may sound old-fashioned (because I am) but the purpose of marriage is to “mutually complete one another and to experience companionship”.  I quote this because I heard it many years ago in our “married life class” that we took prior to being married in our church.

I think it ‘s important to be reminded that marriage was the first institution God created. Marriage was not intended to be given up on whenever it gets tough. There needs to be unconditional love and interdependence in a marriage.  When children are involved, this becomes even more important.  The longer that my husband and I are married, the more I understand about love and commitment. We commit ourselves to one another unconditionally every day.

And with weddings, also comes wedding traditions. So many of you are wanting Ukrainian wedding breads, Korovai.  They are so beautiful and of course you want to keep them as long as possible.

I have had several requests for ways to preserve the Korovai that many of you  newly weds had at your wedding. Please see the page that I posted for preserving your wedding bread under the heading Korovai !

Enjoy the last bits that Summer has to offer in the next few weeks!

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30th Anniversary Road Trip

Happy Anniversary!

My husband (aka My Man/MM) and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this year.

We were married on the Victoria Day long weekend in May and each year we try to do something unique or go somewhere that is memorable to mark the date. Every year is a new adventure!

We often like to surprise each other and this year was no exception. MM gave me a little “blue” sparkly, and for those who know me well, know that I like jewelery and enjoy wearing it even when I garden. I’m no fashionista, but I see no reason why a bit of bling doesn’t go well with blue jeans, plaid shirts and wellingtons (Ukrainian gumboots)!

My gift for my husband, on the other hand, was a bag of licorice and several road maps!

You may think it strange and that’s okay. I know he thought it very strange at first but being good-natured as he is, he went along with my plans. I told him that we were going on a road trip…location is a surprise!

So how does my man prepare for a trip to an undisclosed location? What does he pack? Will he need a passport? Are we flying or driving?

Well needless to say, I gave very little information about what we were doing or where we were heading. I did provide a list of what to pack for a four-day adventure…warm clothes, rain gear, hiking boots, shorts, golf shirts and swim trunks. Oh yes, don’t forget good evening clothes as we would be going to a few nice places for dinner!

Can you sense that maybe my husband would be getting a bit impatient with me?

We started out early on Tuesday morning just after breakfast and drove for approximately 5 hours to the interior of our province British Columbia. We took the Hope-Princeton highway driving through Manning Park and stopping for lunch in the cozy little town of Princeton. It was raining off and on but the weather cleared a bit as we headed for the beautiful Okanagan Valley.



Situated in the interior of the province, the Okanagan Valley stretches more than 100 kilometers. The Okanagan Lake fills most of this valley. There’s a vast array of wildlife here that includes big horn sheep, cougars, bears, burrowing owls and even rattlesnakes. This bear was munching on some roots and did not mind posing for us.


Canada’s only desert is also in the Okanagan. With this diverse terrain, unique microclimates have created conditions ideal for growing grapes and producing a variety of styles of wine.

So here we are in wine country and we are staying at the Apple d’or Bed and Breakfast in Naramata.


This Apple d’or Guesthouse is a fabulous 5 star Bed and Breakfast which has 3 beautifully decorated guest suites.  There is a sunroom, hot tub, sauna and swimming pool that overlooks the Okanagan Lake. The continental breakfasts were fabulous.


Each suite is uniquely decorated. Ours was called the Ambrosia suite. Like all of the suites, it has a kitchen area as well as a private patio which opens up to a beautifully landscaped yard with lush green grass, flowering trees, rock gardens and Spring flowers popping up everywhere.

With the orchards and vineyards surrounding us, it feels like we’ve just arrived in Tuscany! My words here do not do this beautiful place justice. I have included a few photos but please check out their website.


We had another wonderful surprise waiting for us in our suite. Our best friends had arranged for a chilled bottle of champagne to be in our suite when we arrived. This is so very kind of them and so like them too. Thank you so much.


By the way, our champagne was called Between Friends. It’s only available at this B&B. Holly and Colin, the hosts, have a small vineyard and make their own champagne. For a donation to help out a couple of boys and their family in Kenya, you may acquire a bottle or two to take home.

We spent four wonderful days up here enjoying fabulous dinners, going on wine tours and tastings and we even biked a part of the Trans Canada Trail. This great walking and bike trail includes access to the Kettle Valley Rail trestles.


So there it is…another adventure for us as we continue our life’s journey!

If you are planning a road trip or a get away of your own, I highly recommend the Apple d’or and the Okanagan Valley.

If you have any comments or questions, I’d love to hear from you.