A Fairy House For Fairy Day

June 24th is almost over here in Kansas, but I wanted to share some International Fairy Day photos! 

You see, Mr. B took pity on me yesterday, and built a frame for a little fairy house. He still wants to build a much larger, semi-permanent structure, but that wasn't going to happen in time for Fairy Day. Once he started our little house, the girls and I were able to take over. Thank goodness for twine, floral moss, glass beads, and pine cones! I think we built a lovely place for the fairies, just in time for the rain!

I also found out (via Facebook) that this week is International Build a Fairy House or Den Week!  I feel like I'm so on top of everything now.

It started raining as I finished my first round of photos. We got the pine cones from the field near the library and added them later. It rained again overnight and into the morning, which made for muddy, steamy conditions. Alas, I'm afraid we failed to play with the house much today.

We made a fairy cake instead.

It's a simple two-layer white cake with vanilla confectioner's sugar icing. I tinted it with pink sanding sugar and strawberry juice. Strawberries, blackberries, and mint leaves made the refreshing topping.

My little fairy fans approved.

I have another delightful fairy book to show you, but I had a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the park tonight (how perfect is that?!) and never got around to taking pictures. Did anyone else celebrate the fairies today?

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Blossom: A Fairy Story

Blossom: A Fairy Story by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite.
First published by A. & C. Black, Ltd., London, 1928.
This edition published by Angus & Robertson Publishers, U.K. and Australia, 1987.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite is another one of those great Golden Age illustrators. An Aussie, she specialized in fairy art for children's books. I've admired her work via the internet for years, but I hadn't held an actual book in my hands, until now. Thank you, library!

Blossom: A Fairy Story was first published in 1928. It's one of those gentle, old-fashioned fantasies, that could easily have been written any time between the late Victorian era and the first half of the twentieth century. I apologize for the poor photo quality, but I hope you can get some sense of how beautiful this book is.

It's about a little girl named Blossom.

When we first meet Blossom, she is living with her mother in a London slum. Despite her ragged clothes and poor surroundings, Blossom is happy. Her mother loves all things beautiful, and together they stare at shop windows, daydreaming about owning fine things, and they love their upper-floor view of the skies.

They also frequent Kensington Gardens. Blossom's mother has told her all about the statue of Peter Pan, and one day, as Blossom is lolling around the statue, wondering if fairies are real, an actual fairy appears. Her name is Maia, and she tells Blossom she will see her again someday. She can even call her on the "blue convolvulus telephone -- Primrose Path 00000."

Then Blossom's mother dies, and the poor little girl is sent to the Orphanage.

The Orphanage is a lonely place for Blossom. No one wants to hear about fairies, but everyone expects her to learn her multiplication tables. Her only friends are two-year-old twins, Simon and Sarah, and the black cat, Samuel. After a particularly bad day, Blossom and Samuel decide to run away to the country, to find the fairies. They sneak out that night, and find themselves in a fairy wood, where they meet a rabbit named George and a little boy named Patrick. 

From there, most realism departs. Patrick hides Blossom away at his little play cottage, and with the help of the fairies, she leads a very comfortable existence. Besides Patrick, only the "least important" gardener knows she is there. 

As you can imagine, living among fairies is a wondrous thing. The animals in the enchanted wood can speak - even Samuel the cat!

There are more wonderful beings to meet. Samuel takes Patrick and Blossom on a magical overnight ride to a valley filled with all the cats of the world. A flock of birds swoop in overhead. No, wait - not birds. Witches! The witches are the cats' fairies, but they are shy around humans and disappear when Patrick sneezes.

Patrick's family garden is haunted by the ghosts of all those who came before him. Blossom meets his great-grandmama, Felicia, who appears as a little girl. She tells Blossom that she grew up to bear eight children and died an old lady, but because inside she never changed from a happy, naughty little girl, when she passed, that little girl jumped out. She even plays with her own children in child form.

One day, Patrick tells Blossom that their world is about to change. He is to be sent to boarding school, and she will be alone with the animals and fairies. (Remember, his parents and governess have no idea she is there.) Blossom longs for another human, however, and remembers little Simon and Sarah, back at the Orphanage. With the fairies' assistance, the children sneak into the Orphanage and kidnap the twins.

Blossom is still sad, understanding how much everything will change with Patrick away. Even Patrick

The Longest Day

We made Midsummer blomkrans, or flower head wreaths today. For the second year in a row, we were unable to celebrate Midsummer's Festival in Lindsborg, KS. Saturday was my youngest niece's birthday party, and family comes first. I was caught off guard today - I'm used to the summer solstice happening on June 21st. I managed to get our supplies this afternoon, and we crafted away! Our little library branch is located by a park, so we took a few pictures of our new wreaths. I also made a special trip to the main branch downtown, in order to pick up this book:

The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer,
illustrated by Linda Bleck. Dutton Children's Books, 2010.

The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice is one of four books about the seasons by Pfeffer and Bleck, and the first we ever checked out. It's a perfect package of information for kiddos: a scientific explanation of what the solstice is, what it meant historically (and mythologically) for different cultures, and how it is celebrated in different places today. 

We learn about the importance of the sun and solstice in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece. It touches on how parts of Stonehenge, in England, line up with the summer solstice. In the United States, the Chumash native tribe in California painted sunbursts around opening in cave ceilings, and there are mysterious rock constructions in New Hampshire and Wyoming, created by other Native Americans, that point to the importance of the solstice, too.

There are flower wreaths and fires in Europe: Lithuania, Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden...

Of course, near the Arctic Circle, the sunlight lasts nearly 24 hours! In Nome, Alaska, people celebrate with a Midnight Sun Festival.

The book concludes with a page of "Solstice Facts," and several crafts. There are instructions for creating rock art, making a sundial, planting sunflowers, and making flower head wreaths.

Speaking of flower wreaths...

Have a beautiful season! Don't melt! (Seriously - it's boiling here in the Plains.)

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