Mar 17 2012

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

She a bit of a flirt, is this colleen,
With her roguish eyes and bouquet of green.
The sight of this maid so blithe and so gay,
Cheers all Irish hearts on St. Patrick’s Day.

Sunbonnet Smart wishes all those who are Irish,
and all those who will be for today,
a pot of gold and a rainbow under which to find it…

…and an unending flow of blarney
for BlogHer posts!


NaBloPoMo March 2012

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Dec 06 2011

On December 6, wooden shoes hold hay for Santa’s
reindeer at night and gifts in the morning.

When I was a child, I was fascinated with the Dutch celebrating Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas’ Day, on December 6 every year.  I was told they would leave one of their wooden shoes outside their door with hay in it for Sinterklaas’ reindeer. In the morning, there would be a little gift left in the shoe where the hay had been the night before.

Now, in addition to the visit from Sinterklass on December 6, the Dutch also celebrate an American type Christmas called Kerstfeest, with first Christmas or Eerste Kerstdag on December 25 and second Christmas or Tweede Kerstdag on December 26, both of which are public holidays. The Dutch, therefore, seem to have a great time in December and have more than one holiday to which to look forward.

Karin Engelbrecht

If you want to see some mouthwatering Dutch recipes, visit Karin Engelbrecht’s blog. Karin is a Dutch food editor and mentions that a big part of the December Dutch holidays is eating and enjoying family fellowship. The specialty foods she profiles easily explain why. Just look at her November 30, 2010 entry for spiced cupcakes typically eaten on December 6: Truffle Kruidnoten Cupcakes. Here’s a photo that will make you catch a plane to Amsterdam, or at least visit the spice aisle at the neighborhood grocery:

Karin’s Truffle Kruidnoten Cupcakes

Before we go on too much longer about the Dutch, we should mention the wearing of wooden shoes. Long before there were rubber garden shoes in common use, many people in European countries wore wooden shoes as matter of course.  My father, in fact, had a good friend who, born in the 1920s, grew up in Holland and spent his childhood and youth in wooden shoes.

Wooden shoes were and are inexpensive, last a long time and don’t let in the moisture. I have a pair of wooden shoes that were carved for me in Holland, Michigan. I really like them for gardening as the mud, when the weather is wet in the spring, does not hurt them at all. I wear think socks with them and just leave them inside the back door, gently tapping them off outside before I enter the porch.

Wooden shoes are made in Holland, Michigan.
They can be bought plain or highly decorated.

If you would like your own pair of wooden shoes, click on this link to see how to order. They can be ordered plain so that you can decorate them, or you can select from a number of styles and designs. Be forewarned! The small “baby size” wooden shoes are VERY hard to resist. And, if you are now in the mood to enjoy other things Dutch, try looking at this web site that has some extraordinary items.

One last thing, of course about food, you also might enjoy this Dutch cookbook that has great reviews and lots of traditional recipes. For a preview, hover your mouse over this link:

Dandy Dutch Recipes

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Dec 01 2011


DECEMBER 2-3, 2011

More Than A Weekend… An Alexandria Tradition

Online ticket sales will be closed, Wednesday, November 30th, at 5 PM. Taste of Scotland and Designer Tour of Homes may be purchased at the door(s).

Deck the Halls With Santa is now SOLD OUT.

Click Here for Weekend Events

Click Here for Parade Line Up

In their 41st year as host of the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Parade, The Campagna Center is proud to kick off Alexandria’s holiday season with the fresh scent of heather and the festive melody of bagpipes once again! With this historical year, the Center has partnered with The Scottish Government (PREMIER SPONSOR) to celebrate this honored tradition.

The Campagna Center’s Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend events, with the exception of the Parade and the Holiday Designer Tour of Homes, will be held at the George Washington Masonic Memorial. The Memorial is located at 101 Callahan Drive (at the intersection of King & Callahan) in Alexandria. Events held at the Memorial include:

  • Christmas Marketplace (FRIDAY ONLY)
  • Heather & Greens Sale
  • Deck the Halls with Santa
  • Taste of Scotland

What better than a city rich in Scottish heritage to serve as the gathering site for more than 100 clans and pipe and drum bands from far and near with their faithful companions, the terriers and hounds. Along with this year’s Premier Sponsor, The Scottish Government, The St. Andrew’s Society of Washington, D.C. partners with The Campagna Center and the city of Alexandria to sponsor the annual parade.

Click here to purchase various Campagna Center tartan products that honor and celebrate Scottish culture.

Consistently ranked by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the top 20 events in the South, The Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Parade draws nearly 30,000 individuals and families to the Parade. Tourists travel from throughout the mid-Atlantic region to participate in this celebrated community event. If you need hotel accomodations during your visit to Alexandria, please visit the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Bureau website for a list of area hotels.

About The Campagna Center

The Campagna Center’s Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Parade is the largest fundraising activity for The Campagna Center. The Campagna Center’s programs help children in Alexandria arrive at school ready to learn and ensure they are academically successful at each grade level.

The Campagna Center is deeply committed to strengthening families and offering services that help children and youth become caring and productive adults.  Our programs—which serve more than 1,700 children and their families daily—include a focus on early childhood education, child and youth development, and family development.  Current early childhood education programs include Early Head Start (prenatal to 3), Alexandria Head Start (3s and 4s), Campagna Early Learning Center (3s and 4s), Afternoon Adventures (3s and 4s), and Summer Safari (3s and 4s).  Our child and youth programs include Campagna Kids (K-5th grade) and Building Better Futures (high school).  Finally, New Neighbors constitutes our current family development program, which serves families and children through a comprehensive family literacy program.

To learn more about The Campagna Center, visit



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Aug 31 2011

Life as it was in Upstate New York circa 1845.

When I think of fall, I think of the Harvest Festival at The Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The Farmer’s Museum is a living history museum, much like Williamsburg, Virginia or Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In living history museums, the culture of another time period is faithfully represented by period interpreters who interact with visitors as they wander through period surroundings.

The Farmer’s Museum showcases our national agricultural
heritage, specifically that common to upstate New York.

The Farmer’s Museum is a part of the New York State Historical Association, NYSHA, complex located just north of Cooperstown, NY. This well appointed history of agriculture museum sits across the road from the Fenimore Art Museum, the NYSHA Library and the Cooperstown Graduate Programs. All of the visiting options at NYSHA are well worth the time and money for the delightful experiences, both intellectual and aesthetic. And, did I say, “FUN!?!” While the NYSHA library houses rich reference materials and the Fenimore Art Museum is renown for its American Folk Art and Native American Collections, the Farmer’s Museum is a hands-on experience in the farming “way back machine.”

Distinctive architecture from all over New York State
has been moved and reassembled at the Farmer’s Museum.

Agricultural technology from all aspects of a working farm in the 1840s is displayed and explained by costumed interpreters. Hard work inside and outside the home are depicted as well as the hard play of games and diversions. Merchant life, tavern life and the interweaving thread of religious devotion are readily experienced by every visitor to create a vivid image of rural living when our country was young.

Go to The Farmer’s Museum and celebrate the bounty
of the harvest on September 17 & 18th, 2011.

My two favorite visits to The Farmer’s Museum are the Harvest Festival in September and Candlelight Evening during the Christmas holidays. Look for a Sunbonnet Smart post on the Candlelight evening in December, but  focus on the Harvest Festival now, because it’s just around the corner! Saturday and Sunday, September 17th and 18th, 2011, should find you in Cooperstown, ready to ride on a buckboard wagon, spin a hoop across the village green, enjoy old time refreshments or shop at a well stocked general store. If you like penny candy, want to play a game of checkers on a barrel or ride a carousel, then The Farmer’s Museum is for you and the Harvest Festival is a great time to enjoy it. For more information go here.

This family enjoyed their visit to The Farmer’s Museum’s
2010 Harvest Festival so much, they shared it on YouTube.

If you have ever been to Cooperstown, NY, you will remember it as a small village with one traffic light. Cooperstown is located at the base of Lake Otsego, the spring-fed mouth of the Susquehanna River. If you haven’t been to Cooperstown, then try watching the following video to take a tour of a most beautiful and engaging vacation destination:

Cooperstown was named after the family
of James Fenimore Cooper.

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Oct 04 2010

Wampanoag women watch the cooking fire while sharing their culture.

When we visited Plimoth Plantation, I was fascinated by the Wampanoag (Wam-pa-nog) tribe members who were interpreters in the Wampanoag Native American homesite area. These interpreters went beyond being reenactors as they were actually present day Wampanoag tribe members recreating the cultural life of their ancestors. It was very interesting to listen to the two ladies at the cooking fire and also to hear their conversation with each other. They were enjoying life, cutting up and pleasantly giggling with us as they prepared food and answered our questions. We enjoyed meeting them.

The green area shows the original location of the Wampanoag.

A little over 2,000 Wampanoag survive, and many live on the Watuppa Wampanoag Reservation on Martha’s Vineyard. In addition, there is land which is owned separately by families and in common by Wampanoag descendants at both Chapaquddick and Christiantown. Some additional Wampanoag tribal members live in Bermuda. They are descendants of those sold overseas by the Puritans during the aftermath of King Philip’s War in 1675-1676.

This information and the nice map are from a Wikipedia entry that you can find here. If you want a detailed report, there is a very interesting Native American history web site that documents Wampanoag history as one of its listings: go to this link.

In the following video, you can take a tour of the Wampanoag homesite at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. By the way, if you are interested in planting the three sisters of corn, beans and squash in a Wampanoag Garden, directions found here, you can see Wampanoag companion plantings in the video at 7:08 minutes or so.

Tour the Wampanoag Homesite at Plimoth Plantation.
Spoiler Alert! Wampanoag Garden shown at 7:08 minutes!

This is a good book for children in the primary grades. I especially enjoyed the photographs. If you would like to preview it, hover your mouse over this link: The Wampanoags (True Books, American Indians)

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Sep 04 2010

This Labor Day Weekend, what a perfect day it was to go down to the Virginia Scottish Games and Festival, a yearly gathering that takes place in September. This year, September 4 and 5, Saturday and Sunday, the games were played on Big Meadow, The Plains, Virgina, near Manasses, VA, not far from I-66. The weather was as perfect as the company.  You’ll clearly see in the photographs that a great time was had by all.

But first!

We need some bagpipes, Highland Dancing and caber tossing to set the tone. This video is from the 2009 Virginia Scottish Games and is representative of what takes place. Click play when ready.

Now, here are photographs from this year, September, 2010:

Scots take the wearing of the kilt and the playing of the bagpipes very seriously.

Highland Dancing was originally done by Scottish warriors.

Sheaf Tossing involves lifting a heavy sheaf of grain up and over a raised bar.

Border Collies “make suggestions” as to where the sheep should go next.

All of the Clans had displays with their Clan Tartans and Clan Crests.

THE KILTED NATION, TKN, from Alexandria, VA was busy for good reason.

Scottish Country Dancing exhibition by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

There was traditional Scottish music playing in several different venues.


Cabers were turned in warfare to break up the flanks of advancing armies.

Scottish Highland games are both an athletic competition and a celebration of Scottish culture. The games are the modern embodiment of the war games and contests that were held in ancient Scotland in a warrior based society. It is said Highland Games are at least as old as the ancient Olympic Games of Greece and more information about the practice can be found here in this link.

Wikipedia has a great listing of all of the Highland Games all over the United States at this link.

The people who attend and enjoy these events are not necessarily Scottish in descent. The Scottish culture is very inclusive, in other words, all people with an interest in enjoying the Highland Games and Festivals are welcomed. In fact, Scottish Country Dancing has a big following in Japan. Here you can see a Japanese bagpipe group playing in Tokyo by clicking on play.

Scottish Country Dancing is also popular all over the world. Here a exhibition performance video that nicely shows the elegant patterns and turns of a Strathspey:

If you are interested in joining a Scottish Country Dancing group, don’t be shy! You’ll have a good time, meet nice people and get some pleasant exercise at the same time. Go here for more information about the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

Hope to see you at the Games or dancing soon!

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NaBloPoMo November 2012