Saturday, April 7, 2012

Putting together our Easter Basket

Not too long ago, I wrote at Squidoo about the traditions and symbolism involved in making a Polish Easter basket.  This year, I found out when a local Polish church was holding its blessing ceremony, so for the first time since moving to Alberta, we were able to get our own basket bless.

Every family does their basket their own way, and we like to change up a few things now and again ourselves.  Here's the basket we put together this morning.

First our basket...
Blessings basket

Since we have one basket for 4 people (5, this year), we like to have a rather large basket.  I've tried quite a few different styles over the years, and really like this one.  It's fairly shallow, with a wide, flat bottom that's perfect for spreading the food out.  The handle is quite high, so it doesn't get in the way while arranging things.

Blessings basket

I have a thing for tiny, decorative plates and bowls, and they come in very handy for the basket.  My newest aquisitions are the tiny tajines.  I ended up using one of them for the chrzan (horseradish).  I usually try to get fresh horseradish root, but the ones I've seen in the stores are horribly dessicated, so I picked up a jar of prepared chrzan, coloured pink with beetroot.  The divided bowls, meant for sushi sauces, if I remember correctly, are holding two types of salt; Bolivian Rose Andes Mountain Salt (larger crystals in pale pink)  and Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt (dark reddish, slightly finer crystals).  Usually, I just use table salt, but I've enjoyed experimenting with different types of salt these days.  The butter was whipped with garlic granules and dill.  Last  year we introduced olives and olive oil to our basket, since olives played such a large role in daily life 2000 years ago (and still does, in some parts of the world).  The tinned olives include garlic stuffed, which we tried last year and enjoyed, and anchovy stuffed.  I haven't mentioned that to my family yet; none of us have tried anchovy before.  We decided to include vinegar this year, as it was also a staple for thousands of  years.  When I found a double bottle of both olive oil and vinegar together, I couldn't resist!

Blessings basket

The plastic grass is completely hidden in our basket, so it doesn't matter what it looks like, but it helps keep things where I want them when I arrange them.

Blessings basket

Since some of the food is damp or might stain or spill, I line the bottom with paper towel.

Blessings basket

Then comes the fun part.  Trying to fit it all in!  The pickled eggs are a new addition.  Those were left to pickle for several days.  They're gorgeous, but my goodness, they stain!!  I can't wait to see what they taste like.

The cheese for this year is also a new one.  Cabra Curado, a Spanish goat cheese. 

After this photo was taken, I added a few foil covered chocolate eggs.  Then my husband took more pictures.

Blessings basket

This one turned out really well.  What you can't see is me holding the reflector, and the cat that was VERY interested in that basket!

Then it was off to the church for the blessing.  I only took one quick photo.  There was no restrictions on photography, but it didn't feel right to take more!  The blessing ceremony took place in the basement, where several tables were placed end-to-end.


I tried to count the baskets in the photo and got over 50, but it's hard to tell.  This was taken just before things started, and there was a rush of people with their baskets that came in right after I took the picture.  There were so many people there - standing room only, and all ages represented.   The priest was also VERY thorough in making sure all the people and baskets were well sprinkled with Holy Water. ;-D

After it was done, we took our time reclaiming our basket, then headed out, passing a stream of people going the other direction with more baskets for the next blessing ceremony!  I wonder how many they do?  I'm really glad I found out about this.  It feels nice to have a properly blessed basket again. :-D

A collection

I had intended to use some crafted eggs for decorations, but there was no room, so they're part of a centrepiece now.  There's wax resist eggs the years and I did years ago, temari eggs, net beaded eggs, also from years past, and crocheted eggs I finished making just the other day.

Looking forward to being able to enjoy the contents of our basket tomorrow morning!

I wish you all a Happy and Blessed Easter.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Crocheted eggs - variations on a theme

Recently I tried a Lion Brand free crochet pattern to make an amigurumi Easter egg.  I wasn't too happy with the finished result - I found the decreases to the narrow end too obvious.  I played around and came up with my own version.  Then I went through my stash and came up with different variations.  All of these were made on a 5mm hook, and all but the glitter yarn are medium (4) weight.  Here's what I ended up with.

Crochet Eggs

These eggs will be used for display at the Clareview Michaels.  Here are the details.  The pattern itself will be written out later and posted.

Crochet Eggs

This egg is a simple spiral, but when it came to the decreases, I used Planet June's invisible decrease method.

Crochet Eggs

For this one, I did a bi-colour tapestry crochet.  Crochet's natural tendancy to shift slightly with each round created an effect I really liked.  This is my favourite egg of the bunch.

Crochet Eggs

To make horizontal stripes, I worked in rounds instead of a spiral.  I threw in some star variation of the single crochet long stitch to add some texture and interest.  I really liked how the colours worked with this one.

Crochet Eggs

Here's another one worked in rounds and using the long single crochet to break up the horizontal stripes.

Crochet Eggs

I wanted to brighten things up and dug out some metallic yarn from my stash.  Again, it's done in rounds with variations of the single crochet long stitch to change things up.  The glitter yarn is Bernat Shimmer, with two strands together, as it is a slightly thinner yarn.

Crochet Eggs

This version is just horizontal rounds of single crochet.  The purple is two stands of Patons Brilliant.

Crochet Eggs

For my last one, I went back to tapestry crochet in a spiral.  The first round was done in white, the second added the pale beige, then the third added the pale blue.  As I tapered down I dropped out the pale beige first, then the pale blue.  The photo doesn't quite capture the flame-like shapes that formed in the process.  Working with three colours like this was QUITE the challenge, and my younger daughter was sweet enough to help by untangling the yarn as I worked. 

I will be making more of these in a basic spiral and using variegated yarn for colour changes.  Hopefully, I'll have them done and photographed before Easter!