Category Archives: Book of Days Calendar

Frosted Window Panes, or Your December Book of Days

Welcome to December, the opposite side of the year from June. Ever since the solstice in June, Midsummer here in the Northern Hemisphere, the nights have been growing longer and darker… and soon, on the 21st of this month, we reach Midwinter. A new solstice, when the pattern will change, when sunlight begins to return in the form of lengthening days. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. For now, these first three weeks of December, nights continue to grow longer. We counter this with increasing light in our celebrations: Advent, Santa Lucia, Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa… all of these ceremonies call down the light, bring it closer to us and to those we love: Darkest night, deepest joy.

It’s a full month to be sure. To help you keep track, here is our gift to you: your Convivio Book of Days calendar for December. It is, as usual, a printable PDF, a document you can print on standard US Letter size paper, a nice companion to the blog. Our cover star this month is some of that light called down from the darkness: lights through a frosty window pane, from inside our cozy Lake Worth home last Christmas. (Yes, even here in Lake Worth, “where summer spends winter,” it can sometimes get a bit frosty this time of year.)

I’ll be writing about most or all of these red letter days in December, though maybe this year I’ll group some together during the Twelve Days of Christmas that begin once Christmas Day has passed. This way you’re not getting an email notice from me every one of those Twelve Days. Not sure yet. I do worry sometimes about sending you too much mail and the last thing I want is to be a bother. Best to keep the vibration on a higher level, and perhaps that means more consolidation, more editing. Less verbiage. We shall see what we shall see. Meanwhile, while I ponder that and figure that out, a good start of this month to you. May it be filled with many good things for us all.

 

Harvest, or Your November Book of Days

Halloween is past, and now we are fully immersed in the Days of the Dead: All Saints Day today (Ognissanti in Italian) and on Thursday, All Souls Day, Dia de Los Muertos. As you can tell by the different languages, remembering those who have passed at this time of year is a custom across various cultures, but no where is the custom as big as it is in Mexico. What is common across the board is that this is a time of celebration, of celebrating life, and that is a pretty wonderful thing.

One of the aspects of the celebration in Mexico is Pan de Muertos: Bread of the Dead. In my family, we bake a delicious version just slightly sweet, flavored with cinnamon and anise seeds. Our recipe is below. It’s a wonderful way to mark the day, and to remember all who have come and gone. Bread of life. Celebration of life.

And since it is the start of a new month, we have our monthly gift to you, as well, and here is the November edition of your Convivio Book of Days calendar. The calendar is a nice companion to the blog, a printable PDF on standard letter size paper. Have a lovely month. And now, here’s that recipe. Each year, my mom says the same thing: “Why do we make this just once a year?” And then another year goes by before we make it again. All things in their time.

PAN de MUERTOS
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, cut into 8 pieces (or shortening)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
2 eggs
3 cups flour, unsifted

1. Bring milk to a boil. Remove from heat, then stir in butter, sugar and salt. (My mom, who does not like butter, uses shortening.)

2. In a large bowl, mix yeast with warm water until yeast is dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes, then add the milk mixture.

3. Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Add the yolk to the yeast mixture, saving the white for later. Add the other egg, too. Now add the flour to the yeast and egg mixture, blending well until a ball of dough is formed.

4. Flour a work surface very well and place dough in center. Knead until smooth. Return to the large bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let dough rise in a warm place for 90 minutes.

5. Grease a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Turn dough out onto floured surface again and knead once more. Then divide the dough into fourths. Set one fourth aside. Roll the remaining three pieces into ropes, all of about the same length. They should be fairly hefty––not dainty ropes.

6. Pinch three rope ends together and braid. Finish by pinching ends together on opposite side. You should have one long braided loaf. Next, divide the remaining dough in half and shape each half into a bone. Cross the “bones” in an “X” shape and lay them atop the braided loaf.

7. Cover bread with the dish towel again and let it rise for 30 minutes more. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the following:

3 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon anise seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8. In another bowl, beat egg white slightly. When the bread has finished its 30 minutes of rising, brush top with egg white and sprinkle with the sugar mixture, being careful not to get any on the crossed bones. Bake for 35 minutes, or until done, at 350 degrees.

Each loaf serves 8 to 10. If you try it, let us know how you like it. You know we love to hear from you, and as always, we wish you very good days.

John & Seth

 

Little Ghostthings, or Your October Book of Days

It’s October, and here is your Convivio Book of Days calendar for the month. It’s the month of Halloween and tricks-or-treats, so for this month’s cover stars we went back to 1987, when the photo above was taken. That’s my nephew John as a little ghostthing. He would’ve been just about 4 years old there. We started our kids out young on the trick-or-treating and kept them going into the night as long as they could stand it. He and his brother Nick did pretty well each Halloween. We lived in a neighborhood with not many kids. One result was that neighbors for years were surprised to hear their doorbells ring on Halloween night. This resulted in a few things that could not be erased from memory (like the man who yelled out, “We can’t come to the door; we’re naked.”), but mostly it resulted in some of the best Halloween loot ever: whole Toblerone bars at times, or at others, the jumbo size candy bars you’d get in a movie theater. And always a pretty good haul of cash (“We don’t have any candy. But here’s 5 bucks.”)

I loved Halloween then as I loved Halloween when I was a kid and still I love Halloween. These days we are home as the kids come to us. Every year I worry we won’t have enough candy (and every year we have way too much left over). And once Halloween passes, we bring out our Day of the Dead decorations and plan on baking Pan de Muertos, Bread of the Dead. Halloween gives way to All Saints Day on the First of November and then to All Souls Day, the more populist of the two, on the Second. Our thoughts through all this shift underground, just as the trees shift their focus underground, too, growing roots rather than leaves. Our remembrance of all who have passed continues on to Martinmas on the 11th of November. And this is part of what I have come to love about Halloween, too, and perhaps especially: the mystery and the remembrance.

We’ve been adding lots of fun new items to our catalog pages for Dia de los Muertos, all of them made by hand by artisans in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. This is where these traditions are born, and it is right, we feel, to support the endeavors of these traditional artisans––this is the Convivio Bookworks business model in a nutshell. New items are still arriving, and we offer free shipping on your order of $50 or more (not bad, eh?). Order through our website and we’ll ship to you in plenty of time for Dia de los Muertos, or come see us at any of these upcoming pop-up markets local to Lake Worth:

Sunday October 29, 2017 from Noon to 7 PM
AUTUMN WAYZGOOSE & HARVEST MAKERS MARKETPLACE
Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (follow the blue & white MAKERS MARKETPLACE signs on main FAU campus roads)

Saturday November 4, 2017 from 4 to 9 PM
DIA de LOS MUERTOS LAKE WORTH
Hatch 1121 at 1121 Lucerne Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33460 (the old Lake Worth Shuffleboard Courts)

Come say hello to us! Wishing you all a fine autumnal month.
John & Seth

 

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