Monday, August 5, 2013

Meet the Fairies!

Hello, viewers!

About a year and a half ago, I started a Fairy Club together with my two bonus daughters. 

(Here an explanation is in order. There seems to exist a universal dislike of the word "step-" as in stepdaughter, or – horror of horrors – stepmother.  So a few years ago, somewhere in Europe, a campaign was set in motion among the general public to find a positive substitute for this hated word, and the result, which caught on with an enthusiastic, surprisingly over-all acceptance, was "bonus". As in: "When I got married, I was fortunate enough to receive a bonus in the shape of three delightful grown children." Feel free to adopt this term at any time, America!)

Yes, my bonus daughters are truly delightful, and like me, they were experiencing a severe need for more gossamer wings, sparkly wands, and fairy dust in their lives. Said and done! We discovered (or uncovered) a few more kindred spirits, and our group now consists of three mature fairy ladies and four of the daughters we have among us, at this time ranging from 18 to 27. This was the first time I have ever done anything inter-generational and it turned out to be a great success and a lot of fun – I suspect it is all our seven internal five year-olds who are coming out to play with each other on equal terms! Another bonus was that I think it brought me and my bonus daughters even closer than before.

So, what do we do? First, let me explain that, unlike many similar clubs, we are very careful to avoid any hints of paganism in our games. We do not worship nature – only its Creator. Therefore, we strictly limit ourselves to only such frivolous aspects of “fairiness” that are acceptable within the framework of our outlook: femininity and fabulousness, frills and frippery, friendship and fun finesse! And lots and lots of sparkly fairy dust.

When we get together there is a seasonal theme for the table decor, a dinner that ties in with the theme, a craft project for all to get busy with, and substantial amounts of shrieking and laughing and waving about of wands. It is our firmly held belief that more women need more frou-frou and fairy wings in their lives! And more sparkly fairy dust. Obviously.

Our first Fairy (or Faerie, as we also like to dub ourselves) Convocation took place on Thanksgiving 2011. The event was put together rather impulsively, with short notice, and the format wasn’t quite in place yet. You know how it is when fairies start clubbing like that – they need a little time to fully grow into the concept. Being the self-proclaimed hostess, I more or less grabbed what I had handy, or could get hold of locally – and quickly! – for the décor, and put together some turkey thighs, sweet potatoes and pecan pies. And voilà - instant  Thanksgiving! A note on the menu later... 

A view of our first ever Faerie table. A white lace cloth sets the stage...

Being that we were almost into the winter season, and that I wanted to strike an ethereal note with what I had available, I worked with white, silver and pale pink, rather than the more traditional fall colors. Being that I was also feeling lazy, I used disposable clear plastic plates and  wine “glasses”. 
Close-up of a place setting: Clear plastic plates, layered with white paper doilies, on top of a silver charger; a white paper napkin is rolled up with yet another paper doily, held with a "diamond" napkin ring.
Small, square mirrors act as coasters, and the champagne "glasses" (with built-in silver rim) have been gussied up with white feathers and a sparkly pink ribbon. (Glue gun is key!)
The silver flatware is also plastic, hard as it is to believe!

Since then I have actually continued to mainly use disposables, though not out of laziness, but because that way I can transform my tablescape dramatically each time without spending a complete fortune. And after all – we are “only” playing!

Close-up of the center piece: a wide, low glass bowl (from IKEA) filled with water, glass pebbles for added shine, and floating pink rose candles; surrounded by a garland of sparkly pink hearts.
In the middle, a pink mercury glass holds a candle, and additionally, two silver mercury glass votive
holders are flanking with tea lights.
The first craft project was - it had to be! - Fairy wands. In preparation, I had bought thin wooden dowels, glued on cardboard hearts, and coated everything with silver spray paint. These basic wands were then presented to the Fairies together with glue guns and a big goody box of ribbons, feathers, flowers, tulle, diamonds, sparkly fairy dust, and other sundries, so everyone could create their own master piece. (And a center piece like this one comes in mighty handy, let me tell you, when the hot glue gets all over your fingers!)

A historical moment - the first ever Meeting of the Wands!
(Shimmery curling ribbons are hanging from the chandelier.)
What was really fun and sweet, and even surprising, in a way, was the unmitigated joy and enthusiasm with which all  the Fairies threw themselves over the goody box. It made me realize that there is a part of us (most of us?) that needs to let loose with pretty, girly things. None of the women present (with the possible exception of myself) is what you would call "artsy", and yet they were going at the sparkles and fluff like there was no tomorrow. I had one of those almost profound moments, where I reflected over how much women need to have a little innocent fun sometimes. We are so often credited - and rightly so! - with being the backbone of civilization, carrying on our shoulders all the responsibilities that go with this role, but we also need, from time to time, to be "allowed" to let loose and indulge our lighthearted, girly, playful side. 

In this context, I am reminded of an anecdote from the life of my maternal grandmother, may she rest in peace. She was a textile artist, quite influential, with a professional career already in the nineteen thirties and forties, at a time when most women barely had jobs. At one stage of this career, she was involved with the way textile arts and crafts were taught within the national school system. (In large parts of Europe these things were, and are, taught as a normal part of the curriculum.) Decades later, still scandalized, she would recount how once, during a visit to a certain girls' school, she was told by the head textile craft teacher: "Oh, we always remove the pink and purple yarns - otherwise all the girls would want to use nothing else!" My grandmother was outraged (as we all should be) at this grotesque, patronizing mentality that probably did much to stifle the creativity of the students

Girls need pink and purple! Give us our pink and purple back! We want it - and we want it now! I was deeply heartened to see my Faerie Friends indulge in an orgy of pink and purple - and lots of other girly stuff!

Menu Tips

Personally, I prefer dark meat to white - and I find I am not alone in this; whether it is turkey or chicken, the breast meat has an unfortunate tendency to come out dry. Therefore, I buy turkey thighs, season them with salt & pepper, maybe a little thyme, and shove them in the oven at 350° until they're done - a practically no-fail Thanksgiving dinner staple. It is much quicker than baking a whole turkey, obviously. One thigh per person is (more than) ample, and everyone walks away happy.

That year I also came up with a slightly different take on the traditional Pecan Pie: Individual, crust-less pies. I thought: "who needs the extra starch of the crusts - it's the filling we're after anyway" - so I made the nut filling as per usual, poured it into greased ramekins, and baked until ready to serve. I recommend it!

Fairy Pecan Pies

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup sugar (brown or white, according to your taste)

3 eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp chocolate syrup OR 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
As much Bourbon as you feel you can get away with (anything from a splash to 1/3 cup!)
1 ½ cup pecans - coarsely chopped
  • Heave all ingredients, except nuts, in mixing bowl; beat lightly with hand-held whisk until well mixed
  • Stir in nuts
  • Pour into greased ramekins, or other small molds 
  • Bake at 350° until done - approximately 30 minutes
Serves: 8 Fairies


Regards from Rosebud!

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