Granny was quite the woman to grow up with. When I entered this family at age 5, I think she took one look at me with my long hair and bare feet and said, "perfect...a model." She was a hard teacher but a fascinating one. She exposed me to all my passions; fabric, baking, kitchen utensils, decorating for the holidays and gift making.
As a child, I truly thought that life was straight out of Corgiville Fair and the Springs of Joy. It was daily life. Playing with the goats in the goatyard, churning butter and getting to chose the butter mold. Smelling the scented geraniums in the soft green light of the greenhouse and making earrings from fuchsias. My first trip to NYC was with Granny of all people. She took me to see Rudolf Nureyev dance in Swan Lake. As an aspiring ballerina, that was magic. That was one extra curricular activity she approved of. I still remember dancing in A Midsummers Night Dream and seeing Granny in the front row, dressed in a fine dress and holding a violet nosegay for me. She had made it with a doily and it was the most beautiful thing I had gotten. I felt like a prima ballerina! I marvel at the holidays we used to enjoy and only hope that I can continue to share that magic with my children. Valentine's Day was handmade valentines and handmade candies. Easter was blown eggs decorated in Ukranian style and hot cross buns. Birthdays were special cakes with marshmallow frosting and fresh flowers. Thanksgiving was turkey in the tin kitchen and so much baking. Christmas was the favorite for me. Walking through the woods and finding the creche lit in a rock cave was a lifetime memory. Waiting in front of a closed door with murmurs and muffled thumps only to have the door open and the music box playing and the tree lit with crackling candles, decorated with barley candy, foil cornucopias filled with candy and gingerbread ornaments. To this day, I still collect the mercury ornaments (however reproduction) to hang on our tree.
So yes, my childhood was magical. And then I went to high school. And started wearing jeans! Granny was quite put out. She could not understand why I would want to look like a boy. Well I was a teenager in the 80's and not going to listen. Needless to say, the magical part of our relationship was over. I was growing up and moving on. But I never once forgot all she had taught me to appreciate and one of the best accomplishments of my life was to know that I had impressed her as an adult. My work, my children, my baking ..(yes, she complimented me on that, high praise indeed!) and my confidence. She might not have always agreed with my choices but then again, I was my own woman and I worked hard at my success. And yes today, I prefer to wear dresses, albeit not of the Stillwater design but I appreciate the femininity of the dress.
Today, I am lucky enough to do something that I love and have been doing for over 25 years. I am able to use my creativity, my love of entertaining and holidays and showing off the beauty of the land, gardens and architecture. Food and baking are a part of my job thank goodness and I am still able to share recipes on our family website. My children were lucky enough to meet my grandmother and experience some of the traditions with her and I am so happy for that. They never would have believed me otherwise!