Nov 15, 2017

A Harvest of Creative Possibilities and Fun

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and wonderful Fall Harvest of Thanksgiving, creative opportunities and fun!

And please, do not let me forget to share that as much as I love to create, and as much as I love to share and to give to others.

Martha Stewart Doesn't Live Here

"Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I'm telling you in advance, so don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few small changes:

Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

So, please just click on the above if you want to remember just how clever and fun this truly was - especially if you're younger than I am - or maybe even older than I am, or maybe just me and don't remember the years this made the rounds and creative a bit of levity over the Thanksgiving shopping, cooking, gatherings, and clean up involved. Bit of post is link clickable to see the rest.

And the earlier part of this updated post was, of course, all about my doings over Halloween, and the meaning behind all of our various cultural celebrations!

Because, after all...
What fun it is to see the playful side of Halloween and have fun creating small themed gifts for others with Autumnal, Harvest, or Halloween birthdays! 

Some of my gifts feature 'traditional' Halloween themes, others are more harvest oriented items, and still others respectfully celebrate other cultures and traditions!

And having some cowboy boots fabric ..way back from 2005, I used that as well to make some fun pillows for October birthdays that seamlessly blend in with a variety of colors, themes or even holidays as well as a grandpup's quilt!!

And of course some of my own Paper+Fabric gift cards, these are four layers with collage on fronts and backs and machine sewn greetings on the interior pages.

And finally some upholstering off cuts - long narrow pieces. Hmm, tiny little crossbody purses, perfect! And a lovely autumnal color, too!

With this left over marred Halloween panels of Daisy Kingdom fabric, I knew the missing edges or incorrect pieces would not keep me from makings some fun items for others!

So out came the scissors, extra fabric for backing the aprons, the potholder hot mitts,the little puppy bandanna, a fun Halloween mice riding broomsticks and vacuum cleaners through the starry night sky puppy pillow and even some quickly appliques onto kitchen like fabric dish towels!


All were well received and are already in use -  especially by my little grandpup who loved his simple minky covered empty water bottle chew toy,his puffy pillow and quickly tied fleece ribbon toys!

And with a lot of family staying with us for from one to three plus weeks in early autumn last year, why not dye silk scarves with fiber reactive dyes outside when the weather was still nice and our energy levels high?

Great fun! Two days later we hung them from my loft rails to dry...wonderful harvest of homemade gifts for all!

But what about Halloween itself? Why do we celebrate such a strange holiday and just how and when did it all begin???

(image courtesy of wikipedia)
The origins of Halloween, may have begun with Roman festivals of harvest, but is typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)",which is derived from the Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end."

The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year, and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the Celtic New Year. It is believed that the border between this world and the otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honored and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm.

All Saints Day, or All Hallows or Hallowmas, is a Christian feast day celebrated on November 1, or the first Sunday after Pentecost. It a day meant to honor all of the saints, both known and unknown. Because Halloween preceded this feast day, that day actually took it's name from this feast day and thus became "The Eve of All Hallows', and eventually 'Hallowe'en'.

In many of the Christian cultures, All Saints Day honors those who have attained beatific vision in heaven, while November 2, All Soul's Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not been so purified and entered heaven. In the tradition of using holy names taken from the Greek, early names such as All Hallowmas referred to hallowed or saintly, and mas, to the early Christian mass.

The Day of the Dead (Día de los Difuntos or Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico and the Mexican immigrant community living in the United States. The holiday is based on the complicated blended cultures of their ancestors, the Aztec and Maya, and the Spanish invaders, layered with Catholicism.

For more than 500 years, the goddess Mictecacihuatl (Lady of the Dead) presided over Aztec harvest rituals using fires and incense, costumes of animal skins, images of their dead and offerings of ceramics, personal goods, flowers and foods, drink and flowers.

The Aztec, Mayan and other indigenous traditions have enriched the Mexican's attitude about death. From these ancestors has come the knowledge that souls continue to exist after death, resting placidly in Mictlan, the land of the dead, not for judgment or resurrection; but for the day each year when they could return home to visit their loved ones.

Los Dias de Los Muertos is a time for remembering friends, family and ancestors. In the Mexican tradition, people die three deaths.

The first death is when our bodies cease to function; when our hearts no longer beat of their own accord, when our gaze no longer has depth or weight, when the space we occupy slowly loses its meaning. 

The second death comes when the body is lowered into the ground, returned to mother earth, out of sight. 

The third death, the most definitive death, is "when there is no one left alive to remember us."

The act of preparing an altar by placing photographs, flowers, candles, favorite foods and drink of the loved one provides a special time to remember, and to transform grief into acceptance. The living invite the spirits of the family to return home for a few hours of laughter, tears and memories.

Once the night has passed, and the spirits have returned to their world, the ones remaining know that for another year they have triumphed in the struggle of life and that the only way to celebrate death is to live with courage.

Beware of the following superstitions of olde! • Many people used to consider that owls would dive down to eat the souls of the dying on Halloween. They believed that if you pulled your own pockets out, and left them hanging, the dying would be safe. (Good to know, especially the next time you get caught with your pockets hanging out from the dryer!)

• To ward off evil spirits on Halloween, bury all the animal bones in your front yard, or even put a picture of an animal very close to your doorway. (I'll assume they mean collected wishbones and leftovers from Thanksgiving for the burials, and not those of anyone else, for the photos.)

• People used to believe you could walk around your house three times backwards before sunset on Halloween, and that would take care of all evil. (Next time you can't find the kids for dinner, remember you're keeping your family safe at the same time.)

• It has been said if a bat flies into your house on Halloween, it is a sign that ghosts or spirits are very nearer, and maybe they are in your home and let the bat in. (Living in the country, I've had bats in my house on several occasions. My friends claim they live in my own 'belfry', as well.)

• People used to believe that if bats are out early on Halloween, and they fly around playfully, then good weather is to come. (The bats in my belfry are beyond playful. I've been known to be borderline manic.)

• If a bat flies around your house three times on Halloween, death is very soon to come. (Doesn't this negate the good luck of the above?)

• It could be the spirit of a dead loved one watching you, if you watch a spider on Halloween. (And if you're watching, do so respectfully, and don't squish them!)

• Going in for what was once called a 'dumb' supper, meaning that nobody will talk while having supper, encourages the spirits to come to the table. (Well, not only is that term antiquated and not p.c., most families today with teenagers suffer from this predicament, so it's no wonder that most teenagers appear possessed.)

• It is believed that if an unmarried girl keeps a rosemary herb and a silver sixpence under her pillow on Halloween night, it is quite likely that on that very night, she would dream of her future husband. (If you have young daughter's, check their pillows tonight and remove those sixpence.)

• It is said that if you hear someone's footsteps behind you on the Halloween night, you should not turn back because it may be a dead following you. And if you commit the mistake of looking back, it is likely that you might join the dead very soon. (You just can't win on this one. I'm staying home and wearing ear plugs.)

• People believe that if on the Halloween night, a girl carrying a lamp in her hand goes to a spring of water, she will see the reflection of her life partner in water. (This sounds dangerous to me, especially if you believe in the superstition just above, and the one following you is already dead. Sure wouldn't want him for my life partner.)

• People have a superstition that if an unmarried girl carries a broken egg in a glass and takes it to a spring of water, she will be able to catch the glimpse of not just her future husband, by mixing some spring water in the glass, but also she can see the reflection of her future kids.

(OK, this is just too much. Now we are being followed by the dead, stuck with them for life and sharing common ghouls.)

• There is the old saying that "black cats are bad luck". It was once believed that black cats were the devil, or consumed by evil spirits. (I've had several black cats, I loved them dearly, they slept with me every night. Time for an exorcism. Now, do I exorcise all black cats or just me?)

• People used to believe that Satan was a nut-gatherer. Nuts were also used as magic charms on the day of Halloween festival. (At this point, I'm feeling nutty. I think the exorcism has to be on me.)

• If you put your clothes on inside out as well as outside walk backwards on Halloween night. At midnight you will see a witch in the sky. People used to believe witches were the devil, or that they were consumed by evil. (I've been known to do both, on a fairly consistent basis. No wonder I run into so many witchy people and was gifted with a sign that says "If the broom fits, ride it"! It fit and I do.

• There is also an old saying "if the flame on your candle goes out on Halloween celebration; it gives you the meaning that you are with a ghost". (Stocking up on matches, lighters, and battery powered lanterns)

• If you ring a bell on Halloween it will frighten evil spirits away. (Ding!)

Free Ideas and Tutorials for Making Magic of Your Own:

Happy Harvest: Gifts Tutorials from the Heart

Make Halloween Banners or Prayer Flags:
My little trio of holiday flags, given as an October gift. These simple burlap and felt banners can be seen as prayer flags for those in their colorful costumes and festive spirit and not those darker aspects of this season that so many shy away from.

Making Magical Devil's Club Lip Balm in Alaska

One of the things I most love to do while I am in Alaska, is to be able to take small bits of spare time, and do creative and unusual things and often using free, recycled or inexpensive ingredients. 

One of them one year was to learn how to make lip gloss using native materials - many of them indigenous to southeast Alaska.

This is continue on the original post at:

Making Magical Devil's Club Lip Balm in Alaska

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands sharing an imaginative, magical and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting from "my heart and with my hands".


Marilyn McLeod @ Pink Paper Cottage said...

Oh Michele... I loved this post! Howe interesting and fun and as always, you've been BUSY! All of your sweet gifts are just darling. I so well remember Daisy Kingdom! LOVED that place.. it was so magical. I could (and did) spend hours there, and took many classes there back in the 70's and 80's. It was always a treat to go back there after I had moved away from Portland and I was so sad to see it go out of business. I still have a few things from them, a wall hanging and an Old World Santa Clause panel for making a stuffed Santa! Your history of Halloween was so interesting too. It makes it more real to me. I always thought it was just demons and devils and never really liked it.. but now that I understand how it came about, it seems less un-Christian. I liked your story about All Souls' Day. My son was born on Nov. 2nd and he has gone to Heaven now, but I think he was born on a very special day.

Your posts are always so interesting and informative. Oh and I love your boot pillows too.. and the darling gift bag and using the upholstry fabric for a cross body bag. You are so so talented! Hugs.. Marilyn

Michele Bilyeu said...

And I so love this comment Marilyn! You have been a sweet blessing and my own prayers and blessings are always in my heart for you.

Celia said...

Don't know how I missed this post Michele. Was just thinking about you this morning. Hope your Thanksgiving was very good.