Monthly Archives: February 2011

Photo Friday: Gather ye Rosebuds

There are those who find Valentine’s Day trite — a Hallmark holiday, at best — and scoff at roses, chocolates, teddy bears, balloons, and other designations of love. Not me! In addition to celebrating love every day I can, I admit to being a complete sucker for Valentines signs and symbols — for sweet doily-bordered hearts, home-made meals, romantic gifts, and bunches of brightly colored flowers that appear in profusion in the dead of winter. I like seeing them all lined up at the market like these, just waiting for someone (even if at the last minute) to decide to scoop some up just because it’s the best and most extravagant way at the moment to proclaim their feelings.

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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How to Make: Fun and Easy Homemade Valentines
Photo Friday: Between Seasons
Photo Friday: San Francisco Storefront

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How to Make: Fun and Easy Homemade Valentines

Since Roman times, people have celebrated a mid-February festival — once called Lupercalia and celebrating fertility, the holiday was changed by Pope Gelasius in 496 A.D. into a Christian feast day in honor of the Roman martyr Saint Valentine. Today, 25% of all cards sent in the U.S. per year are valentines.

And why not? In addition to proclaiming love, valentines can be lovely, bright, traditional, and endless in variety. As such, they make a wonderful craft for children, who can easily decorate large paper hearts with simple things found in grocery and craft stores and around your house.

You’ll need:

Construction paper in classic Valentine colors (red, pink, purple) — or not!

At least one good heart-shaped template, made of cardboard, that you can trace around to make valentine hearts. (Sometimes these can be found in craft stores.)

Scissors, regular and/or pinking edged

Glue, traditional and stick

Paper doilies that are slightly larger than the heart-shape

To decorate your valentine hearts, choose from:

Smaller doilies, either whole or cut
Commercial valentines, either whole or cut
Stickers (old-fashioned valentine or floral themes, or any of your choosing)
Small pom poms
Ribbon pieces
Small paper cups for candies or baked goods (available at specialty or grocery stores)
Small paper hearts
Feathers
Buttons
Beads
Tissue paper shreds
Crinkle cut paper
Pipe cleaners
Party napkins, whole or cut up
Felt hearts
Foam hearts and other shapes
Fabric scraps
Crepe paper pieces
Glitter
Markers, to write messages
Paint

The list is endless! We collect valentine items from year to year and store them away when not in use. Most of these things are available in craft and similar stores. Younger children, especially, seem to like the really tactile items like pom poms, feathers and candy cups.

It’s easy to host a small or large group to make valentines. Try putting each item in its own small bowl. Or have guests dress up or wear hats for a Valentines Tea that includes mini sandwiches and juice or tea in teacups. (Second-hand stores are a good source of old teacups.)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

You might also like Mixed Reviews for New Necco Sweetheart Flavors.

Photo Friday: Between Seasons

Last weekend, where I live, the temperature seemed to boost about 40 degrees. Sun and warm winds suddenly replaced the frigid air. Overnight, it seemed, fruit trees burst into blossom — nothing subtle or slow — and I could smell wild onions and grasses and the sorts of shoots that signal spring. One front yard on my street, however, is having trouble letting go of the last leaves of fall even as they’re being eclipsed by a splashy early spring show.

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

You may also like:
Photo Friday: San Francisco Storefront

Photo Friday: San Francisco Storefront

San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood is perfect for strolling and for conjuring just a bit of San Francisco’s Beat era history. Our family ends up there a lot. We peruse the small shops with their arcane displays. We get fresh-baked biscotti in Italian North Beach, or dim sum in neighboring Chinatown. We buy beads and postcards, leaf through records in low-ceilinged store basements, where milk crates are stacked floor to ceiling and a person can barely squeeze between the stacks. Among the old, there’s always something new. A fresh look down a street that winds all the way to the Pacific Ocean, or up at a line of laundry blowing in the breeze between buildings. I hope the arcane and the lovely find you, wherever your travels take you.

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

Michele at Fun Orange County Parks has gotten the ball rolling by submitting a wonderful, magical picture. Thanks for playing, Michele!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman at Gallery 28

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Photo Friday: Ghost Sign
Photo Friday: Empire State

Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Early Spring

Groundhog Day, February 2, has basically everything going for it that I love in a holiday — It marks a point in a season; it’s full of folklore and wisdom, superstition, ceremony, civic charm, mystery, agrarian history, and weather — and it was featured in perhaps my all-time favorite movie of the same name, which itself is a study in acceptance and inner calm while being outright hilarious in nearly every frame.

Altogether now: It’s Groundhog Day!

In an early morning ceremony today, groundhog Punxsutawney Phil rose from his heated burrow at Gobbler’s Knob, PA, and signaled to his handlers that he saw no shadow today and accordingly foretold an early end to winter. Over the 125 years that the ceremony has taken place, Phil has seen his shadow 98 times and not seen it only 16, counting today. (Records don’t exist for every year.) The last time he didn’t see a shadow was in 2007. In 2008, the crowd booed the prospect of “six more weeks of winter”, as they no doubt would have today, when a smaller than usual crowd stood in the freezing rain to watch the ceremony.

The same article also notes that Phil’s “handlers” make the prediction for him. What do we think of that?

How did the groundhog tradition get started?

According to this excellent Groundhog Day site, German settlers arrived in the 1700s in the area of Pennsylvania, northeast of Pittsburgh, which had been previously settled by the Delaware Native Americans. The Germans celebrated Candlemas Day, originally a Medieval Catholic holiday to mark the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The holiday also has roots in Celtic-Gaelic and Pagan cultures, where it is celebrated as St. Brigid’s Day and Imbolc, and is a time of festival, feasting, parades, and weather prediction, as well as candles and even bonfires to mark the sun’s return.

According to Wikipedia, the origin of the word “Imbolc” is “in the belly”, and among agrarian people, Imbolc was associated with the onset of lactation of ewes, which would soon give birth to lambs in the spring.

The German settlers of Pennsylvania put candles in their windows and believed that if the weather was fair on Candlemas Day, then the second half of winter would be stormy and cold. While this has always seemed counter-intuitive to me, this site explains the science of Groundhog Day and that cloudy weather is actually more mild than clear and cold. It makes sense, then, that the shadow would portend six more weeks of winter. (A lifelong mystery is solved.)

The English and Scottish had wonderful sayings to mark this occasion:

The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.

— Scottish saying
(Note the serpent instead of the groundhog.)

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

— English saying

Punxsutawney’s first Groundhog Day celebration was in 1886, and though other towns, particularly in the eastern U.S., have Groundhog Day ceremonies, none is nearly as famous as Punsxutawney’s. Some of this may lie with the groundhog’s official name, “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary”. Still more popularity, and tourists, have come as a result of the movie Groundhog Day. The first official Groundhog Day prediction in Punxsutawney? No shadow – early Spring.

This site has more information about the groundhog itself and about the filming of the movie.

If you are a Groundhog Day movie obsessive like me, you will enjoy this site that breaks down exactly how long Bill Murray’s character, Phil the Weatherman, experiences Groundhog Day in Gobbler’s Knob.

Shadow or no, here’s wishing you a happy remainder of the winter, a ceremony or two, a dash of lore and wonder, and a fruitful spring.

Photos: Aaron Silvers, Creative Commons

You might also enjoy: Happy New Year! Celebrate with Traditions from Around the World and at Home.