Fine it was tofu

Yesterday I left the snow and general crap scene of weather in Toronto, and made my way here to Texas, where I’m at the DFW Fiber Fest, an event that I really adore.  It’s got a great vibe, and they’re such nice people, and I thought that even before last year when they were so sweet when I bailed on them to go home for Elliot’s birth. I like them so much, and am actually so grateful for that gift that I am here again, even though it means missing his birthday. They let me be there for the most important one, I can miss this for them, and I got to see him for Easter before I came, and it’s only a day, and you get it.

Truthfully, I was feeling sort of bummed about Easter. It’s usually such a nice holiday for us, low pressure, and all the Spring birthdays get rolled into it, and we have a great dinner at my mum’s and this year I felt like it wouldn’t come together, no matter what I did.  In the end (and I know you’re probably tired of hearing this, but it’s still a problem over here) I realized that I was trying to make it just like the Easters at my Mum’s, which obviously can’t happen because she’s not here and we can’t go there, and I gave up. You’d have thought that I would have figured this out at Christmas, but I didn’t. I accepted that it wasn’t going to be the same, that I couldn’t force it (though I tried for a bit) and I made some new traditions, as many as I could think of – though tried to keep them rooted in the way we do things.  My mother wasn’t there to make a ham, and we don’t eat ham anyway, so I made a vegan ham.

(Fine. It’s tofu. Whatever. My brother eats ham and he said there was “nothing wrong with it” which isn’t a completely ringing endorsement, but is a pretty ecstatic reaction for a carnivore to have to a vegan ham, if you ask me.)

Every year my mum asks me to make this braided bread, but this year I somehow couldn’t so I did bunny buns that I thought Elliot would think were funny. (He did not, but Samantha loved them) and every year I decorate one egg really beautifully as a gift for my mum (she had a whole bowl of them) and so this year I did a bunch.

I figured the girls are all adults, old enough to appreciate them.  I did make the same cake my mother always made, and though not everyone with a spring birthday could be there to celebrate (another stumbling block stumbled upon) Sam and Alex blew out their candles, and Elliot had a practice run. (So far, not his jam.)

We saw Joe’s  family, and we had an egg hunt with the littles, and I knit Elliot some lamb shoes so that he matched the other wee ones.

Pattern: Lamb Shoes, Yarn: Random handspun I found in the closet.

They are charming, and fun and fast to knit, and they come in adult sizes which is something I am really, really resisting out of some sense of decorum that only I feel.  (Everyone else in the family wants me to let go of that sense, and make them all lamb shoes. I think I might have established some unreasonable expectations over Christmas.)

Overall, it was okay – good even, if you try really, really hard not to compare it to other Easters, and just let it be it’s own thing, which is what I am doing, mostly.  Everyone assures me that this odd sense that nothing is right and I’m screwing it all up will pass with time, and I hope so.  There can only be one first of everything without my mum, and we are getting through it.

I mean really, what can be wrong as long as you can look at those little feet?

121 thoughts on “Fine it was tofu

  1. I lost my mom close to 25 years ago. Holidays are still a little melancholy, but the first year is the worst by far. These days I actually like “our” way of doing Easter and Thanksgiving- it feels like the kids are in charge!! (I’m 55)

  2. I cannot believe I am the first to leave a comment! I’m so honored! Anyway, LOVE those bunny buns, want that recipe. Will knit the bunny slippers for everyone in my family who wants a pair.
    and-last but not least- remember “this too shall pass” You’re making wonderful new traditions, that’s how life continues. Be Well my dear knitting ninja, The Blog is always here for you.
    Take care

  3. I’m right there with you, trying to make things feel ‘right’ in the old way when I need to focus on making them ‘right’ in a new way.

    Lamb shoes for all! My treat.
    (I swear it can see me…had to touch the foot.)

  4. Well, I never thought I’d say this, but, “Never mind the bootees … how did you do those eggs?!” They are bootiful!

  5. Yes, the firsts are very hard. Sending clouds of light be your way!
    Those lamb shoes-oh, goodness, I am imagining my grown children and their significant others all wearing lamb shoes as we do our now-traditional grownup Easter brunch next year! A year should give me enough time……

  6. The tofu hams look terrific and yummy, but the lamb shoes on Elliot’s sweetie little feeties are irresistible!

    I want lamb shoes, too. 🙂

  7. Those. lamb. slippers. <3
    You are doing a great job of going forward in the way and at the pace that works for you.
    Now wishing I was at DFW Fiber Fest but waiting impatiently for Strung Along!

  8. “There can only be one first of everything . . .”

    Truer words were never spoken. I’m so glad you’re finding your way to lead your family in the spirit of your mom, rather than trying to be your mom. You’re getting there.

  9. Think of all those “firsts” your dear mum had! She made her meek on her family as you are now doing. Those bunny feet are so sweet and even more necessary for the so called grown ups that sometimes are too serious. I have schnauzer slippers and I think I will make some bunnies too!

  10. Missing birthdays is hard, especially a first one. However, we learned that birthdays are “movable feasts” and on several occasions celebrated our kids birthdays as much as 2 weeks early or late depending on when grandparents could join us. We even celebrated more than once a year if that worked best. Have a great time at DFW.

    • I’m glad to know we were not the only ones to moves birthdays around. When the children were really little we also moved the holidays a day or two-who really knew the difference? I love the excitement of preparing surprises and the children say I’m really good at it now they are adults. I’m having fun!

  11. Love the slippers!

    Give yourself grace – holidays will be hard especially this year. If you celebrate Mother’s Day in Canada as we do in the US next month, please be easy on your heart and plan on something that honors her and you and know that all of us will be behind you with compassionate thoughts and prayers.


  12. Thank you for your honesty and look into your feelings. I lost my dad in August and this year has been rough in so many ways. You have a way of writing what I am feeling. So thank you.

    • Jennifer, I am truly sorry for your loss. In two weeks it will be two years since I lost my dad. Hang on and keep on swimming through those waves. Two years is much better than the one year was. And I’m sure the third will be better still. I will miss him forever, but the years don’t sit and wait. Stoopid years.

  13. Starting at the top: Enjoy the Fiber Fest, and remember your sunscreen! Relax about Easter; you got through it just fine (assuming the Easter Bunny didn’t leave any little “surprises” hopping around). Next year, try eggplant parmesan if you don’t think the tofu “ham” was a hit. The lamb slippers are cute, so if Joe wants some…;-)! And belated happy b-day to those who were “sprung” in the spring…now what am I forgetting?

    (Oh, yeah: Aside to The Ladies: Next year, give your mum some Easter Eggs!)

  14. It does get easier, bit by bit. You did great, and your mum would be proud. (Bunny buns!) I think lamb shoes for all too. And it might have to happen here as well….. And could you bring some of that heat back to Toronto when you return, please. Windchill factors??!!

  15. Steph, I know there have to be many others who are grateful to you for honestly presenting what this journey looks like. Whether we are just starting down this road or have been walking along it for a long time, it is a comfort to know that the feelings are real, they continue to kick you in the teeth now and again, and that the idea that “I should be able to do this better than I am” is very prevalent, especially, I think, among women. Thank you for letting us walk with you, and I hope we can all provide some measure of support for one another on the journey.

  16. If Brother is a carnivore (actually an omnivore) then he needs to bring the ham while you continue with the vegan entree. Two entrees are always a crowd pleaser. Coming to grips with a loss of a loved one is keeping what worked and embracing new ideas for the rest.

  17. I’m begging you to make lamb shoes for the entire family and then post the obligatory group pic. In all seriousness the first year of loss is astoundingly hard —might as well accept that you’re navigating unknown territory and allow all the feelings. We’re all with you in spirit.

  18. Beautiful eggs! (How) Beautiful celebration. Your Mum would be proud. ( I cannot believe that Eliott is year old already.)

  19. Great eggs, tofham looks good, but those lamb tootsies steal the show. Why not make them for the whole family just like last year’s hat? But this time make one for yourself too.

  20. I am generally all for decorum, but any sense of decorum which forbids you to wear novelty slippers needs to be recalibrated, in my opinion. (Unless you are going to tea with the Queen. Then maybe nix the slippers. Or take her a pair – for all we know, she’d love them, but no one ever gives her any because she is The Queen.)
    Those eggs, incidentally, are amazing.

  21. All the firsts are hard. My mother has been gone 18 years and I still haven’t hosted Thanksgiving at my house! Grief is a journey and sometimes the path is rocky and has switchbacks. Go easy on yourself.

  22. Oh, Steph. All the hugs. Don’t worry about boring us, ok? That broke my heart a little. I write an email to my husband, who passed away four years ago, almost every day. And I say the same thing, almost every day. I miss you. I love you. I wish you were here. Your son did (some charming/silly/idiotic/life endangering/adorable) thing today. Your cat is still hoping you’re going to walk through the door, I am not her preferred minion. This sucks. Sorry I’m so boring. I *miss* you.

    It’s okay. I mean, it’s not okay, but whatever you want to share with us, that’s totally cool. Whatever it is. It can be the same thing every day. We’ll still be here, and we’ll still say the same stuff, back, but we’ll mean it with all our hearts. We love you. We’re so sorry for your loss. There is a hole in the world and it doesn’t really go away, but you learn to live with it. I’m so sorry. I know you miss your mom. She’d be really proud of you, she loves you, she would be stoked about those beautiful eggs, and those sheepie shoes would crack her up. Hugs and I wish, how I wish, there was more we could do.

    But we’ll be here. That might be about all we can do, and we’ll do it. We love you. We’re not going anywhere.

  23. You are doing your best to get through things and that is good enough!
    Love the booties!
    The eggs are fabulous and you have to tell us how to make them!

  24. My mother passed 1 month ago tomorrow. People kept saying, “Be kind to yourself.”. Couldn’t figure that one out. But 30 days in, I believe I’m beginning to understand. This is hard. Don’t put crazy demands on yourself. You and I, we will find our way.

    I’ve been busy knitting a baby blanket, 3 babies joining our family this year. And I can find joy in knitting for little people.

    Those lamb slippers— I think the babies coming need them!!

  25. Your eggs are stunning! I thought for sure you must blow them out, but I can’t see any holes. But then I read the word vegan. Are your eggs paper-maiche?

    We take our egg decorating seriously….no. We take the process of blowing out the eggs, eating egg sandwiches, and establishing the Easter Egg tree in the middle of the table seriously. I’m working on the kids to up their decorating game.

    Congratulations on making it through another holiday.

  26. The year of “firsts” is almost always heart-crunching, but you did a fantastic job of jumping over the emotional hurdle and coming up with your own version of Easter.Atta girl!

  27. I think those are Ukranian style Easter eggs though I love them in the blue. Where do you get your beeswax?

    Love the slippers. Making new traditions is part of the tradition. Your Mom would approve when it is done with love.

  28. How could Elliot be a year already?! And then I remembered that he’s just a few weeks older than my grandson, and birthdates do keep to tend in tandem like that year by year.

    Those shoes and his little feet are beyond adorable. And those eggs are gorgeous! Are they blown so you can/do you save them from year to year?

  29. Having lost two of my immediate family, I’m with you on the rocky path of what the first year after is like. What I wasn’t prepared for was how hard the 2nd birthday without my brother was like. I guess I thought if I got through the first, the rest would be easier. Which was true … but that didn’t make the 2nd one easy. Not sure if that makes sense.

    My mom died just over a year ago. So now I’m into my 2nd year without her. And her birthday is coming up. Most days I miss her in a more gentle, always-with-me way. Some days something tugs my heart so hard I weep. I hold fast to a good friend telling me to be gentle with myself. And how I do that changes with how my grief is on any specific day. Sending you best wishes on your grief journey.

    Love the bunny slippers … my brand-new great-niece may need a pair.

  30. It’s important for me to remember that my mother felt that way when her mother died and my grandmother felt that way when her mother died and, well, you get it. The traditions we lost when my mother died were those she created when she lost her own mother. There comes a time when we have to make it our own.

    • Yes to this. While learning to live without my mom, I’ve taken strength from what I remember about how she managed to get through the death of her own parents. I’ve also learned to spin on the wheel I inherited from her, she wouldn’t teach me (“get your OWN wheel, this is MY WHEEL”) but I remember how frustrated she was when she learned and that memory made me persevere. Now 4 years later I still miss her but I’m determined that I can do this life thing and I’m proud of myself for gutting it out spinning some pretty dang decent yarns!!

  31. I think you have to go through the whole year of family things before you even begin to “get it”, that it won’t be the same, no matter how hard you try. So I think your tweaking is a good thing. The sense of tradition and family will probably be what people keep on remembering. Keep going bravely on.

  32. The tofu-ham looks yummy! I think I might try it. I’m totally and whole-heartedly a meat eater, but I also like tofu. See: you found your own new tradition. It will get more fun after the sting isn’t so fresh.

    We also had a sad Easter since it was so close to the anniversary of my favoritist uncle’s death. His son and grandson were there, both with his lovely brown eyes. Oh, and the son with his voice which sounded so EERILY like his father’s! 🙁

  33. Lamb slippers are a great new tradition. How about making a pair for each family member and requiring them to wear their slippers at your place each Easter. They can dust the floor while they enjoy the holiday! You can even have a competition with a prize for the slippers with the most dust bunnies or the biggest dust bison.

  34. I can only imagine how hard holidays must be without your mother. But remember that each holiday without her is one with Elliott. I know he can’t replace her, but he clearly brings so much joy to your lives.

  35. I wonder how it would have been different if your Mum had known she was going. You might have had conversations about the first time she did holidays without her Mum and what it was like for her.

    I’m sure what you are doing is just fine and will become the”new normal” for your girls. The last thing your Mum would have wanted was for you to be upset about doing it “just right”.

  36. Well, it looks like you had the best holiday possible, considering the circumstances. Maybe next year will get a little easier, and every year after that will too.

    Cheers for the Ukrainian pysanky-style egg in there! We make those when we have the time (my dad’s side descends from Western Ukraine).

  37. No one tells you how hard its going to be. First Passover without my mother. Did the special recipes like you did. Lots of joy in that. But those grandkids and young’uns join the broken circle to help us mend.

  38. Decorum–shmecorum. Make lamb slippers for everyone. They will love them, you will love them, and you will laugh. Right out loud and long. And that’s what is good for the heart.

  39. Your posts affect me so profoundly as my mother died young but knew she was dying so I spent a lot of time with her.

    It takes a long time. I lost my anchor as one of my friends put it. My main cheerleader in life.

    Love those slippers, gonna knit me some 🙂


  40. Since you aren’t a practicing Christian, do even need to call it Easter now? It could be a fibery spring celebration thing…with rabbits, lambs, chicks, etc.

    And even more so next year when it falls LATE in April.

  41. I should of known you were getting ready for Easter! Every morning I checked and no post. I figured you were busy and I would check back.
    Now I see all the lovelies you were making for your family for Easter and the Spring Birthdays and I love them all!

    Happy Spring Stephanie, Enjoy the warm in Texas!

  42. Holidays are hard. I now understand why my mother felt melancholic at holidays.

    But you make new traditions, and still practice the old ones. You make the new memories and keep the traditions for the next generation.

    And never forget. It’s called memories and love.

  43. I really liked the comment above to honour the loved one’s memory by creating new traditions!
    I think the tofu ham looked excellent. Congrats on figuring that out!
    But yes if you prefer something else next year, why not? (quinoa-stuffed squash or portobello mushrooms? with nuts and maybe spinach or cranberries?)
    and three cheers for the lamb slippers!
    (I also agree with taking care of yourself)

  44. Omg! Love the lamb shoes! First pair for me, and then maybe the rest for the husband and kids–26,28,30. They loved the Christmas socks–they might love these too!

  45. I think I speak for everyone here that we’re glad you’re here this year! Since the only class you taught last year was the one I was in, I have no regrets about you leaving last year either.

  46. All the best for this coming year, and turning the page.

    I see the puppet on those little feet and yes that is a very good thing. nothing sweeter. xo

    (And it’s *not a ‘music note’ in that captcha test on this post, it’s a treble clef, cle de sol. grr. you have no idea what i am talking about, i am just grumbling to myself.)

  47. Your pictures are just lovely, and it seems like you had an ok holiday-it WILL get better-give yourself time.

    I’m really interested in the tofu ham recipe! That looks delicious. My husband and I are vegans, and I struggle with holidays to make something that everyone will enjoy, but keep true to our lifestyle. Would you mind sharing the recipe?

  48. I think i might have to refer to this pic of his little feet in lamb shoes next time i have a day that is kicking me in the teeth. There are not a lot of them, but i do believe in having a plan! I’m glad the “ham” turned out well! : )

  49. Hi steph, we don’t know each other but I wanted you to know I take comfort from the fact that, having lost my younger sister just before xmas and facing my own ” year of firsts” I am not alone in the way I feel, disconnected at times whilst life goes on around me. We are changing the way we celebrate family occasions and the way we used to do things but all the time for me at least something is still missing. I take comfort from the friends who say this will become easier to bear as the first year passes. Thank you for your words and remember you are not alone

  50. When I lost my hubby nearly 18 years ago my teenagers and I decided that nothing would ever be the same, so we gave up trying. Just go with the flow and remember what you said – the first time for each event is the hardest, and it truly is. It doesn’t mean you stop missing her and crying, it means that you know you can do it. And those precious little feet in their lamb slippers will get you through it.

  51. It looks like your Easter/birthday parties went well . You have a lovely family . I lost both parents & my sister. My heart is still broken. I like to make new memories with each day & hold on to loved ones in my heart. Thinking of you. It’s okay.

  52. Once again you have hit the Word Nail on the head. The “odd sense that nothing is right” is still persisting for me and my husband died of cancer 18 years ago this June.

  53. The eggs are beautiful, the bunny buns are adorable, and you absolutely should make everyone bunny shoes! Thanks for sharing the link – if I have appropriately squishy yarn, I’ll be making some for myself, too. 🙂 {hugs} for getting through yet another “first.”

  54. I’m sorry you missed Elliot’s first birthday, but selfishly, I’m so grateful you made it to DFW. I was lucky enough to get into your Knit Smart class. You were informative, inspiring and entertaining – the very best kind of teacher!

  55. Another vegetarian thanking you for the link to the tofu ham 🙂 This looks just the way mom used to make ham – with the brown sugar and orange juice and cloves. Must try.

    Lambie slippers for all!

  56. You are so brave!
    I love the lamb slippers, so darn cute!
    Treasure your wonderful memories, and the making of new memories,and traditions!

  57. Beautiful eggs! And, you’re right… the lamb booties can take your mind off everything. I bet you will, indeed, be making family sets for xmas next year! Hang in there.

  58. Sweet feet!

    If you decide to make everyone lamb slippers for Christmas, please let us know the pattern for the adults. I’d love to make that a go for my family.

    • Whoops. Finally thought to click through on the link, and the pattern comes in all sizes. Should have thought of the demand.

  59. *Hugs*. I lost my natural maman before we got the chance to meet face to face (she was in France, I in the US), and we didn’t have traditions together, but we wrote hugely long letters (usually 20+ pages, 40 page, I guess, if you count the front and back) and I photocopied all my letters, so I have two ridiculously big binders of our complete correspondence and all we told each other. It’s been 6 years, and I still haven’t been able to open the binders and read her precise scientist’s writing, though they comfort me each time I see them. But it still hurts too much. We were planning on meeting in Scotland to see castles together, and then she got sick with a baffling off and on again illness they didn’t figure out until it was too late.

    Grief is a such an odd thing. You find comfort in the memories you have, and man, your mum made some amazing memories for you. She wove a tapestry of love , traditions and every day good times around all of you, one whose colors will never dim.

    As for the lamb slippers, go for it. Let your inner decorum be a bit silly. It’ll be good for her. I just made 10 pairs of steeked, Scandinavian-themed colorwork slippers (everyone chose from 7 different color groupings, having no idea what they were choosing the colors for) with 6 inch foldable cuffs (and then had to adapt slightly for an XS for the almost daughter-in-law and totally wing it for the toddler niece in France) and let me tell you, I am seriously eyeing those lamb slippers. They look so much faster! And adorable. And the grown up and almost grown up kids and little bro know that no one is safe from The Knitting Mum/Sister. (And I think my sanity could survive 10 pairs of lamb slippers. It was a near miss with the steeked ones.)

  60. Stephanie,
    I’m a little late in commenting but here goes. There was a time when your mom was doing all these things for the first time also. I am sure she had her hits and misses but the important thing is she tried and so are you. You will have your hits and misses also, but you are trying and that is what your family loves about you. And that is what they will remember. Don’t try to be just like your mom because you are you. Yes you miss your mom and you will for a long time, but it does get better with time. You will start to remember the love and happy times with your mom with a little less pain each day.
    Kiss Elliot as often as you can and know that his grandma has things organized her way and he and all the family love you.

  61. Well lot’s of people have said what I would have said, that it doesn’t really “go away” once the firsts of everything have passed. It continues to echo. That might sound distressing, that it doesn’t end (it doesn’t), but it does seem to transform. Into a companion that you learn to make room for, setting a different sort of place-setting at the dinner table, as it were. You’re doing it, it just feels like a new pair of shoes that need breaking in, but you’re doing it. Graciously, I might add.

  62. Those are the cutest little slippers! Gotta bring a smile when you see those! The vegan “ham” looks delicious. I’d love to know the recipe you used.

  63. It is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the leisure here! Keep up the excellent work.

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