Because there won’t be any in-person holiday bazaar for my cards this year, my website is updated (thank you Devin!) to do everything online. Please check it out, along with some new cards. I hope you like it. (Below, some discount codes.)
If you decide to order as many as 5 or 10, you may use the code 5FOR20 or 10FOR40 for a discount. If you are nearby and prefer a safely socially-distant pickup, use code PICKUP for no shipping, and contact me to make arrangements.
Because of the pandemic, the Washington Waldorf School’s annual Holiday Bazaar is online this year. But you can still join in socially-distant craft activities and patronize the Waldorf store and participating vendors (of whom I am one) by following the link. Hoping for in-person next year…
Today is Veterans’ Day, instituted first as Armistice Day after WWI, then Veterans’ Day after WWII (although my mother occasionally still called it Armistice Day) as a tribute to veterans of both world wars. It’s also the Feast of Martinmas, which is less well known in this country, although having been raised Catholic I grew up familar with the story of Saint Martin of Tours. It seems somehow fitting that Veterans Day is celebrated on the festival of a former Roman soldier.
Martin was born in the 4th century in what later became Hungary but what was then Pannonia, a province of the Roman Empire. His father, an important officer in the Roman army, naturally expected his son to follow in his footsteps. Martin had been named for Mars, the god of war, presumably to encourage that military spirit. But apparently young Martin was an easy-going, sociable fellow, more curious about strangers, and generous with handouts, than aggressive toward them, so to get him into the army his father arranged for his kidnapping and forcible enlistment by his soldiers, hoping that Martin would grow accustomed to military life through daily exposure. I bet Dad didn’t get many loving letters from the front. Today this method of recruitment is frowned upon.
However, there was Martin, a soldier at last, obliged to serve the Emperor for three years, outfitted with a Roman uniform and a sword. Even in the army, Martin was open-handed, and his military salary usually found its way into the hands of the unfortunate. His unit was sent to Gaul, as part of an ongoing attempt to civilize the native barbarians. Civilization in Gaul was eventually attained at a level far beyond their wildest dreams, but that’s another story.
One winter day, the story goes, Martin arrived at the gates of Amiens, where he encountered a poor ragged beggar shivering by the side of the road. Martin had already given away all his extra clothing, but, taking pity on the beggar, Martin unsheathed his sword and cut his warm woolen (army-issue, uh-oh) cloak in half and wrapped one half around him.
That night, Martin dreamed that Jesus appeared to him wrapped in Martin’s half-cloak saying, “Martin has covered me with this garment.” This made him determined to leave the army permanently, at the end of his term. When he attempted it, however (inconveniently during a barbarian invasion), he was accused of cowardice, in response to which he offered to advance alone against the enemy. Instead he was imprisoned. Eventually he was released at the conclusion of an armistice, and was finally able to pursue his vocation, settling in Gaul, founding an order, living very simply and developing a reputation for feeding the hungry and healing the sick.
Over the years our homeschooling group celebrated Martinmas (sometimes in combination with Diwali, Festival of Light, which can occur at around the same time—this year it falls on the 14th) with storytelling, a night-time walk in the park carrying lanterns and singing songs about light, and afterward gathering to share dessert. Happy Martinmas! Happy Diwali! Happy Veterans Day, everyone!
Up early this morning, to prepare the St.Patrick’s Day table and bake soda bread for breakfast. There are many choices, and this recipe (below) is my current favorite. But I was out of wheat germ, so I substituted bran, resulting in a gutsier product. Great with Irish cheddar, or yogurt and jam (or all of the above, if that is to your taste). Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Irish Brown Soda Bread
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (or bran)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 T cold unsalted butter cut into bits
1-1/3 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt (I’ve tried both)
Preheat oven to 425º.
Sprinkle baking sheet with a little flour.
In a large bowl whisk together flours, oats, wheat germ/bran, baking soda, and salt. With fingertips rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk/yogurt and mix quickly until dough is evenly moistened. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Turn dough onto floured surface and shape quickly into neat sphere, sprinkling with more flour as needed. On prepared baking sheet pat dough out into 7-inch round. With sharp knife cut shallow X in top.
Bake 25 minutes or so (depends on your oven) until bread looks set in center. Cool before serving.