Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Handmade Christmas Crackers for 2010

Have just posted details of the Christmas crackers or bon bons that I have created for my Christmas table and to give as gifts, over at my Christmas blog. Couldn't resist sharing a couple of pictures here at my main blog.

Shimmery, glittery gold and butterfly trims will delight my twin daughters but my personal favourites are the white floral vintage inspired design - love using the old lace from my collection and the perfect finishing touch is a grandmother's brooch!

An old atlas was the inspiration for another set of vintage style crackers. Quite unusual don't you think? I made the one on the right this morning as a gift for a friend I hope to visit this week. She comes from Samoa - a place very close to her heart - the perfect shape for the map embellishment which of course is cut out from the page of the atlas that shows the Pacific islands!
Hope she is not visiting my blog today! It was such a joy to make this for her!

I'm not sure if I will have time to post again this week so will take the opportunity in this Christmas themed post to wish all my readers a beautiful, blessed and joyous Christmas.

Take the time to enjoy your preparations this week. Find some time to bless someone that you know - take a plate of cookies to your neighbour or put together a baking mix in a jar for a friend. I'm planning on making a batch of my home made muesli to give as gifts. I wish you well if you must head out to the stores - I am planning on just one more trip to the Farmer's markets for fresh produce later this week and will need to pick up parcels at the local post office after doing most of my Christmas shopping online this year - hope everything arrives on time! Can't resist showing just one more picture. This is the gift I have bought for my cake decorating daughter, thought I would share it as it might give someone reading this an idea for a last minute gift. I also sent this to my sister in the UK taking advantage of free worldwide shipping via an online bookstore. This book is nothing less than eye candy!

I just know she is going to love it!

With Love and Joy,


( who has just deleted her signature and doesn't have time to go and retrieve the code! Don't you just hate it when that happens!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Christmas Stove

Just wanted to share a few pictures of my home decorated for Christmas in case you don't have the time to pop over to my Christmas blog. The latest post is on gathering greenery to decorate the home at Christmas - I share my favourite greenery from Eight Acres of Eden that I use to decorate my home at Christmas along with some tips and inspirations for using natural materials to bring the spirit and scent of Christmas into your home. Here are a few pictures of my beloved Stanley stove in all its Christmas finery!

A peek at my handmade Christmas bon bons for our table this year! I can tell you I'm sparkling this Christmas - that glitter paper looks lovely but the glitter drops and gets everywhere!

Just about to go and make one of these - my first batch of gingerbread for Christmas - if it turns out well I will take some as a gift for my daughter's Mandarin and Art Teacher today to say thank you for all the effort she has put into her students. If you read my last post 'An Art Prize' you will understand why I want to especially thank her on behalf of my daughter!

Hope you are enjoying your Christmas preparations.

With Love and Joy,

Monday, December 13, 2010

An Art Prize!

'And the winner of this year's art prize in the 13 to 15 years age category is....'. Her name is announced, the smile appears on her face and she rises and steps forward to shake the hands of the judge who hands her a certificate and a cheque for $200 made out in her name. I beckon her over, she squeezes through the throngs of people who have gathered for the awards ceremony, she is still smiling, she is radiant. I congratulate her, I am so happy for her, so proud of her. I know she will never forget this moment. She returns to her seat for a short time to hear the announcement of the names of the winners in the other categories.

We live in an artistic community. Our small town and rural area has more than its fair share of artists and craftspeople - many are drawn here by the intense natural beauty of the valley. I often drive my country road and see groups of people sitting at easels in a field that overlooks the valley. Perhaps they are taking a landscape art class, when their work is finished they may contemplate entering the annual art prize hosted by the community arts council. The same council that also organizes an art prize for young people which has the aim of 'encouraging the young artists of the region to create and exhibit outstanding artworks.'

Reading her sister's story which was published in this book six years ago. She always used to ask me - 'Will I ever win anything?' I have always told her that one day her turn to achieve success would come - that she just had to be patient, be diligent in practicing what she is good at, to pursue her passion and make the most of every opportunity.

Her teacher had encouraged her to enter her artwork. The bonus of attending her Mandarin class and having a teacher who also happens to be an artist. Who has instructed her students in the intricate technique of Chinese brushwork with delicate inks and watercolours. Who also chose to display the work of the young people she has been teaching, at her own recent exhibition at a local gallery. My daughter's work was already framed and she was determined to enter the competition. She tracked down an entry form and kept reminding me of the closing date for entering, she dropped the work off at the gallery and made sure we remembered the time of the gala opening and prize giving. We had also been invited to a barbecue on the same day at the same time but told her we could be late for the barbecue - she was relieved!

We arrived at the gallery, a good turnout considering the number of other events taking place at this busy time of the year - dance recitals, work parties, family barbecues. 'Wow' - the standard of work was high - not a surprise for this town. Some of the other works were considerably bigger in size than my daughter's work - the time that must have been invested, the technical ability of some of the artists, especially in her age category was incredible. Her big brother whispered in my ear 'Have you seen what she is up against ?' I nodded and I knew which painting he was referring to - an outstanding work. A little cloak of disappointment began to draw over me. How little I understood about artistic expression!

We gathered for the speeches and the announcements. The judge mentioned the high standards, the incredible abilities and how artistic expression can give you an insight into how children see the world - differently. I thought of my daughter's painting - it was entitled 'Garden', quite abstract when viewed from a distance. And then you see it in the corner of the canvas - the tyre swing hanging from a tree. If you were asked to paint a picture of a garden what would you paint? Trees, shrubs, flowers, maybe pots or an urn? Yes, me too . I asked my daughter later on if she had looked at any paintings of gardens as inspiration for her work and mentioned the tyre swing. 'Oh no' she replied ' It was my imagination and I just love tyre swings!' I smiled and realized that the judge had seen this too - her interpretation of a garden.

We will visit the exhibition again this week. All the artworks are for sale. She is hoping her painting does not sell. The bare space on her bedroom wall awaits its return. However, we priced it very reasonably - just enough to cover the cost of framing, the gallery's commission and a small profit for herself. I've told her to be prepared - it might sell but to welcome this if it happens. It is further recognition - someone liked her work enough to buy it and will display it in their home.

And right now, as my thoughts focus on Christmas preparations and one more trip to the city to find a few more suitable gifts for my children, I'm going to suggest to my husband to bring home an old tyre from work. We will look for a tree with a sturdy branch in a clearing. I haven't mentioned this to my daughter - but I think she is going to love it!

With Love and Joy,

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Invitation to Christmas at Eden

At last I have found some time to update my Christmas blog! I invite you to pop over and visit me there. The first post for this season is 'Choosing a colour scheme for your Christmas tree.'
I share my thoughts on why I am sticking with my traditional colours of red, green and gold but how I have updated my Christmas tree at very little expense. Share in my decorating dilemmas, read about my family's Christmas traditions and gain a little inspiration for your own Christmas preparations.
I would love to meet you there so do come across - no snow at the doorway and the sun is shining! It's going to be a beautiful Christmas!

With Love and Joy,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Family and Formals

It has been a busy month at Eight Acres of Eden. There are nine people in this family and six celebrate their birthdays in the last two months of the year. Parties to plan, cakes to bake, presents to find. Added onto the list of events is the annual church formal dinner for the young people and on Wednesday my sixteen year old daughter leaves for her first missions trip to Thailand - there were lots of preparations for this - cooking for fund raising church lunches and trips to town to buy the travel essentials. And did I mention this is all happening just before Christmas? I love this time of year - it is the time when I indulge - not in food but in creative pursuits - making bon bons and silk flower garlands and decorating my home. However this year, I have had to reassign my priorities and devote my precious time to precious people rather than preparations.

Both my daughters attending the church formal had been reminding me that they needed to find a dress. This was not high on my list of priorities until I realized how excited they were to have an opportunity to dress up and express their femininity. Finding the perfect dresses for them was no easy task. We visited lots of dress shops. Most of the dresses we saw were simply too immodest - too short, too low cut or too casual which tends to be the case when you live in a coastal region where surf culture predominates. However, with a little perseverance and lots of pavement pounding, we found dresses for both girls. My younger daughter found hers first - at a vintage clothing store. A genuine vintage dress in a lilac hue with a high neckline with a lace frill on the back of the calf length hem to match the three little roses. It was the perfect fit and the style was not too mature for a younger teen. She wore it with black flat ballet pumps and it suited her so much - she looked lovely. So there is my first tip for finding lovely modest dresses - check out vintage clothing stores. The styles of yesteryear can still be worn today. How refreshing it was to see on the news that at the Melbourne Cup this year the 'fashions on the field' had many girls opting for vintage suits and dresses. The girl they interviewed looked so lovely in her 1940's inspired outfit and stated that she felt so 'elegant'.

The aqua gown worn by my older daughter is her dream formal dress. She had told me she wanted to wear a long, flowing dress in a satin fabric. We found her gown at a bridal and formal wear shop which was having a fifty per cent off sale on selected styles. Thankfully, the dress was on the sale rack and it was in a small size. This mother was unsure at first - I knew that most other girls would not be wearing long dresses in such a formal style. She didn't mind - she wanted to make a statement that you don't have to opt for the fashion look of that season and that you can dress beautifully and retain modesty. It was her suggestion that we should alter the neckline slightly to bring it up higher. A few stitches and a hook and eye were all that was needed. Tip number two - don't be afraid to alter a dress you believe is 'not quite right' - you can add lace to lengthen a pretty but too short dress, add straps to a strapless dress or wear a bolero jacket. Alter a neckline if you need to, as we did. We have always said to our daughters when talking to them about how they should dress - don't be afraid to be different, don't let 'Supre' (a teen fashion store) or peers dictate to you how you should dress, dare to wear dresses, express your femininity, honour your parents, respect your father and be aware of the message your dress and demeanour could send to young men, be especially considerate of your brothers in the Lord. Smile and speak kindly, be gentle, courteous and conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of your Lord. You are a daughter of the King. How satisfying it was for me to see my daughters taking this all on board as they prepared for the formal this year. They looked beautiful, they felt so elegant and their radiance was so apparent it could hardly be contained!

My son surprised me too, stating that he needed a suit! In previous years he assured us that a suit would be 'too formal' for this occasion. Did I hear that right - my son who usually wears jeans or board shorts and t- shirts and thinks shirts are for politicians and businessmen went shopping by himself for a suit but rang me for advice.... I assure you I'm still recovering, picking myself off the floor and pinching myself - did I dream that my son asked his mother for fashion advice?! 'Which suit mum?' Not to be outdone by his sisters he listened to my advice and opted for the slightly more expensive, higher quality suit which he told me was much nicer, (designed in Italy!) better cut etc. I assured him it would be a good investment - that he would wear it again to weddings and future formal events. He even bought a white shirt but when I suggested the bow tie he went pale. 'Be happy mum I actually bought a suit and a shirt' was his response! He looked good in it too. Both my son and daughter paid for their own formal outfits which was such a blessing to our family at this time of the year.

All these happenings in our household have left me little time to write blog posts.... not ones that need lots of photos to be taken and uploaded so please accept my sincere apologies. I wanted to show you my newly completed formal living room but I'll have to save that for next year .... here's a peek at the work in progress, painting the newly raised ceiling and beams. As with most projects in this home it was a family affair!

On the first day of the next month my beautiful twin girls will be five years old. They will spend their birthday morning at the airport farewelling their sister as she gets ready with the rest of her missions team to board the plane that will take her to Sydney to catch her flight to Bangkok later in the day. We will have a simple but special celebration at home and as the cake decorating daughter is not going to be here I get to actually decorate the birthday cake this time - I'm cheating using ready-made iced decorations which was a wise move as as I will have so little time to prepare but the cake will be home made of course! I'm certain they will want to help to make their own cake and decorate it too!

Rarely does a day go by without something on the stove or in the oven. We have recently discovered the truth that sometimes the best food comes from a few basic ingredients..... eggs from our chickens, a little sugar and farm fresh milk are all that is needed to make what I am now convinced is the most delectable dessert ever .... a baked egg custard, one food I have fond childhood memories of, as the local bakery used to make pretty good custard tarts. I used the Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evan's recipe from his book 'The Real Food Companion'. I have to take it back to the library soon - it was worth reading for this one recipe! A sprinkling of nutmeg is the only extra ingredient. With the eggs mounting up in the basket on the bench I suspect that this dessert will be a regular item on the family menu this summer. Simple to make, simple to eat! Oh and we enjoyed this batch of custard with strawberries and cinnamon biscuit hearts!

And speaking of desserts have any of my readers ever used these books? I found them in my daughter's idea's file. Would love to surprise her at Christmas with a book related to her interest that she has obviously looked at purchasing. I'm trying to find most of our family's gifts online this year as I have no desire to traipse around stores or stand in queues at checkouts.

It is time to sign off and go and do what I had intended to do today which was make some more bon bons - I have another Christmas decorating seminar to prepare for too! My tree is not up yet and it is almost December.

Are you ready for Christmas? Don't forget in the midst of all your preparations the people they are for are far more important than the preparations themselves. Don't stress to impress - if you don't have it all photographed for your pre-Christmas blog posts don't worry - we will still enjoying seeing Christmas pictures next year. Just a little reminder that your family needs you now in the midst of the busyness.

Until next time,

With Love and Joy,

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beautiful Christmas Books and Stories for the Family Library

A family tradition I established some years ago was to each Christmas buy one Christmas story to add to our family library. As the Christmas season draws near I would love to share with you the books that I have read to my children over the past few years. I love beautifully illustrated books that reflect the true spirit of Christmas and I hope that these recommendations inspire you to find books for your children that remind them that Christmas is not all about receiving presents - though I must say books make great gifts! Perhaps there is one here you have not yet discovered that you may wish to give as a gift this year and you may even adopt our tradition of the 'Family Christmas book gift'.

My absolute favourite Christmas story book is Annika's Secret Wish by Beverley Lewis. This book takes you back in time to the early 1900's and into the home of a Swedish family. The most anticipated event for a child on Christmas Eve is finding the almond hidden in the rice pudding - this is what Annika longs for, finding the almond means she will be able to make a wish. She dreams of owning a black pony to ride with the wind - her secret wish. Is her dream going to be fulfilled?

The outcome is one that is truly touching and so beautiful I cried when I read this for the first time! Acts 20:35 says 'It is more blessed to give than receive' and this is the essence of this story. Not only does it have a lovely moral lesson, it introduces the reader to the traditions of a Scandinavian Christmas - rice pudding and gingerbread houses, gilded apples and walnuts, straw angels on the tree and candles in the windows to light the way for Jesus, the Christ child.

The illustrations by Pamela Querin are exquisite and capture the delightful details of a Swedish country home, the painted furniture, the stitching on the white household linen and blue and white crockery set out on the table. After reading the story you will return to just stare at the pictures and reflect on the beauty and simplicity of the Swedish home, the dress of that time and its family traditions.

I would go as far as saying that this is probably my favourite illustrated book for children of all time. I was so inspired by this book I named one of my daughters after the main character! This book has become part of my family's Christmas heritage and I am relishing the opportunity to read it to my children once again this Christmas season.

Another beautifully illustrated story book for children is 'The Candle in the Window' by Grace Johnson. It begins 'Once upon a time in a little German village.....' and introduces us to the main character Gunther, a cobbler, a lonely man who has lost all hope and joy and believes he has no reason to celebrate Christmas anymore, until he meets a very special family who bring him a candle to set out in the window of his little shop.

Another story which portrays the truth of God's Word and shows us that when we minister to 'the least of these' we are indeed doing it 'unto the Lord'. The story closes with an ancient candle prayer which is so beautiful I am going to use it when we light the candles in our home this Christmas.

" Lord Jesus, thou whose birth we celebrate, we have lit our candle in the presence of each other and the holy angels. Kindle in our hearts thy flame of love, that day shall break and shadows flee away. Amen."

Another well-known seasonal story first published in 1995 is 'The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey' by Susan Wojciechowski. The central character of this story, a woodcarver, is called 'Mr Gloomy' by the village children. In similar circumstances to Gunther in the 'Candle in the Window' he also has every reason to be miserable at Christmas. Once again, the Lord sends him a mother who has a special request - would Jonathan carve a set of nativity figures for her and her son? This is the beginning of Jonathan Toomey's Christmas miracle.

If like me, you love books that are beautifully illustrated you have probably seen or own at least one of Donna Green's books. Her illustrations for the keepsake holiday book 'Christmas at Our House' capture the magic of Christmas and the loveliness of festive family traditions. Designed as a book to record Christmas memories, it also includes sayings, carols and recipes but I bought it mostly for the pictures! Even if you choose not to write in it, you can set it out on a table and browse as you nibble on a mince pie or a Christmas cookie!

Another practical book that daughters who love the idea of a traditional Christmas might enjoy is 'Elsie's Christmas Party How to Plan, Prepare and Host An Old-fashioned Christmas Party'. We own the complete collection of Elsie, Millie and Violet books published by Mission City Press in their Life of Faith series. They were favourite read alouds and I treasure these books because the characters did inspire my girls especially, to live a life of faith. Elsie's Christmas Party helps you to celebrate Christmas as a girl during Elsie's era may have done. It introduces charming Victorian traditions and gives lots of ideas for everything from invitations, to table decorations, food and even 'parlour games'. There are recipes, crafts, gift wrapping suggestions - all very feminine and if you were thinking of having a Victorian theme for your Christmas decor and celebrations at home this year, this would be the perfect book! Take a peek inside at the section on table decorations. Fruit and flowers, china, linen and lace and not a plastic plate in sight - yay!

The most recent addition to our Christmas library was a gift given to me last Christmas by my daughters. It is a collection of short Christmas stories by my favourite author Louisa May Alcott.
I had no idea that she had written so many stories about this wonderful time of the year, so what a joy it was to discover this compendium. In true Louisa May Alcott style, there are compelling characters, evocative writing and the glorious expression which she is famous for, of sentiments of hope, faith, joy, redemption and goodness. It's starting to sound a lot like Christmas! I have read a few of these stories to my children but have been saving the rest for this Christmas season.

Reading aloud to my children is one of my most favourite things to do, reading aloud at Christmas in the surrounds of a home decorated for the season with lights twinkling on the tree in the background and the smell of spice biscuits baking in the oven is for me 'mother joy overload'. Oh just the thought is urging me to finish this post and get started on my Christmas decorating. I have been so busy with birthdays and renovating our formal living room I'm a little behind this year. If you are in need of some inspiration do pop over to my Christmas blog. I hope to get some new posts up as I complete each task I need to do but I'm planning on a simple but beautiful Christmas this year.

Hope you enjoyed seeing our Christmas book collection. What are your favourite Christmas books? Do you also have this as a family tradition? I have not had time to check whether all these books are still in print but I'm sure you might find them on Amazon.

With Love and Joy,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Finding my Family

It all started with a small scrap of paper held in the possession of a grandmother. If that scrap of paper had been discarded or tossed onto the hot coals of the open fire by an over-zealous housekeeper, the details of my heritage would have been lost forever. You see, that scrap of paper contained a sketchy outline of a family tree, names of people, birth dates, places - all the information that I had been searching for, in order to discover more about my family history.

My daughter enjoys researching family history and had put considerable effort into researching her father's family history. It was not too difficult to unearth, members of his family had already documented the family history. My husband has Maori ancestry - famous warrior chiefs appear on his lineage, there are numerous records, books and paintings. She also researched her grandmother's family history and again there were records and distant relatives who had uploaded their findings onto the web. It was just fascinating - she was able to present the evidence to her grandmother and confirm that there were indeed convicts in the family. You can read more about her project in a previous post 'The Family Historian.'

Having completed this project she now wanted to know about my family history. I was able to tell her very little. My father's parents had died before I was born. I only knew my maternal grandparents and my mother's father had died long before I was born. Her mother had remarried and the man I knew as grandad died when I was around the age of ten. He was a lovely Christian man. He presented me with a copy of the book 'Mary's Bible' on my eighth birthday. He wrote inside the front cover. It is the only material possession I have from my grandparents. I have read this amazing story of the faith and courage of a young Welsh girl to my own children and keep the book in my memory box to pass on to my own children in the hope that one day they also will read it to their children.

I knew I had Christian heritage but how far back did that go? Longevity appeared to be a family trait. I know that God promises long life to those that trust in the Lord (Psalm 91.16) This fact and just a few childhood memories of visiting my grandparents' home were all I could share with my daughter. I told her about my grandmother's button box which kept me amused for hours - oh to have some of those vintage buttons now - I would stitch them onto a quilt and create an heirloom! And the most delicious home made cake I have ever tasted which came out of a cream enamelware tin from an old fashioned larder - if only I had that recipe today. And the little lawn surrounded by a rose garden which was just a sensory delight to a little girl who only had a concrete backyard to play in.

I wanted to know so much more about my family so I wrote to my uncle and aunt at the beginning of this year and told them about my daughter's family history project and her desire to add in the details of her mother's heritage. And this is how I learned about the scrap of paper!

My aunt told us how it was safely guarded, how it came into their possession and how they 'puzzled about it without much success'. Their eldest son, began searching churchyards and in one he found family graves, the dates on the stones matched up with those on the little scrap of paper!

He contacted the vicar and found out that the family had not only attended the church - they had built the church and were at rest in the crypt. My aunt and uncle were able to visit this country church - the family pews were still there and historical plaques about the family adorned the walls. They were also able to visit the family home where the family had resided for generations - as far back as 1550 when they were yeoman farmers. How exciting it must have been to visit these places. I hope to visit the same places if I have the opportunity to return to England for a trip one day. I have connections to places I never knew about!

She promised to photocopy and send on all the information that they had but in the meantime I had a name - my great grandfather's name, his date of birth and the place where he was buried. The most beautiful location in a region of England I have visited many times. To think I had sailed on the lake there, not knowing that my great grandfather was buried in a cemetery on its shores.

My curiosity aroused, I typed his full name into the google search box. And on the first page a result. My grandfather's name mentioned in a book. The dates and all the details matched - there was no mistake, this was my great grandfather being given special mention in a book about a famous family of America - the Fairbanks family. Why was my great grandfather's name in a book held in the libraries of America's most well known and prestigious universities? Fortunately, I did not have to travel to the US to read about my grandfather. The book out of copyright was now in the public domain in electronic format. I could freely browse its pages and read more about the family that was in fact, part of my heritage. My great grandmother was a Fairbanks, the daughter of a wealthy businessman in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My great grandfather was a military officer, he was in Canada to train Nova Scotian volunteers in the art of musketry. They married in Canada, spent time in India and eventually returned to England. Where in Canada did they meet? Perhaps they were introduced at one of the functions that his wife's father was known for, lavish affairs they must have been, for he 'entertained liberally and his hospitality was noted in military, naval and civic social circles.' I also read that my great great grandfather was 'held in the highest esteem by his fellow citizens.'

'The Genealogy of the Fairbanks family in America 1633-1897' by Lorenzo Sayles Fairbanks is one mighty volume. And how grateful I am to a man long passed who chose to record the history of his famous family. He did not just record lineage but gave details of character, occupations and exploits. No doubt my great grandfather was given mention on account of his distinguished military career but the author not only mentions the doctors, lawyers, ministers and politicians of the family but those he also considered to be of high standing who held more humble positions. He mentions a man 'noted for his tender affection of his children', a couple whose home was a centre for hospitality, content and good cheer and a good example of New England domestic life.' He had a strong regard for the wives, mentioning one 'whose energy and good judgment were equal to any emergency. Not many houses were better furnished or more home like than theirs.'
And there it was, the mention of the remarkable longevity of the Fairbanks family and their wives in Nova Scotia - the branch of the family my great grandmother belonged to.

With a little more research, I was able to trace my great grandmother's lineage to George Fairbanks, a man of 'sterling character and a model pioneer' the second son of the Puritan Jonathan Fairbanks, an original settler of New England. And to find out that the original Fairbanks family home is still there, in Dedham, Massachusetts, thought to be the oldest surviving timber framed house in America built around 1637-1641. The Fairbanks family in America Inc, own and preserve this historic building. Annual family reunions have been held there for the past 108 years! You can see pictures of the house and read more about its history here Perhaps one day I will have the opportunity to visit the house and even attend a family reunion! If you are visiting my blog and reside in New England you may have visited this historic home or you may even be a member of the family for its descendants are 'found in almost every state of the Union, Canada and Nova Scotia' according to the author. I would love to hear from you!

It was exciting to receive the package of printed materials from my aunt including a copy of that original precious scrap of paper. I also found out that my great grandfather's family history had been recorded in yet another rare book which contained not only his genealogy but also that of a Dr Johnson. I didn't take much note of that until I realized it was the Dr Johnson, Samuel Johnson the famous author, poet, essayist, moralist and lexicographer - the man who wrote the English dictionary published in 1755. How incredible to think that the family history I had been searching for was recorded in a book alongside that of a most famous man. The member of the family responsible for this work just happened to be a genealogist and a keen 'Johnsonian' as they are known.

It is so rewarding to research family history - it can be quite addictive too but it has given me a wonderful insight into history itself. I had connections not only to England and my birthplace but to the countries of Canada and America and real family connections to their colonial past. How much more interesting a trip to New England or Nova Scotia will be for me one day. I plan to visit all of the places my great grandfathers and grandmothers settled and resided in. I have the written information and now I am searching for photographs - I love to have old family photographs on display in my home. A visual reminder of a heritage. It's why I am keeping a family memory box, why I have books on my shelves that will be passed onto my children to read to their children, the stories that were read to them will influence another generation. I hope to ensure that they do have beautiful items to display in their homes that will remind them of me. Even if it is only a few of my favourite recipe books and a box of the laces and trims I used to embellish the bon bons I made for them each Christmas season. And that they know the story of their family - their heritage.

Today, as I once again browsed the pages of the book about the Fairbanks family in preparing to write this post, I became aware that what really matters most is people - there were so many people in this family who appeared to have understood this. The author speaks of the Christians 'widely known and beloved' and a family man who cared more for 'home associations than for office' and of a man who did not live for himself but for others. It challenged me to think about what I value most, what I live for and what I would want my children to say about me. The legacy I leave for my family will not be about the land that we owned, a house or material possessions. It will be about faith passed on, love poured out, the investment of time and the making of memories - the memories that I create. The atmosphere of the home is something that stays with someone for a long time. It is what I do this very day in my home that will make my name tomorrow. It was said about my great great great grandfather that he 'left his children the heritage of an upright and honourable name.' If it had not been for that little scrap of paper I might never have known this.

And as I conclude this post I hope that you were not bored by the details of my family history. It was so important for me that I put this all into, what is after all, my family journal that future generations of my family might read one day. I tend to lose scraps of paper - my grandmother did well to preserve her history! If you skipped through the details that's fine! But if you are still reading let me just ask one question. It is not 'Have you researched your family history?'

Rather -

What are you leaving for your children? What will be your legacy?

'What thou lovest well is thy true heritage.'
- Ezra Pound

With Love and Joy,


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