Just a short walk around our home brings so much beauty to the eyes!! You feel yourself forced to take a deep breath, exhale, and allow your stress to just melt away…
I have an ongoing list of sewing projects that has been sitting on the sewing table for months. This weekend, with some “me time” for mother’s day (thanks hubby!!), I was able to whittle down the list a bit.
A square skirt for Kaia (if your daughter has a twirl requirement of her skirts, this is a definite must!)
And a few pants for Leif. (He goes through them so fast. Being the track-hoe that he is, the knees of his pants take a beating.)
He insisted on lifting his shirt so you could see the waist band.
Next on the list, some new undies for Leif and a square skirt for ME!
Ok, you don’t even have to use Nettles! You could use spinach or any other leafy green. But, nettle was what I had on hand and boy was the result delicious!! (You see the big bottom lip in the picture above? I’d just told him I didn’t want him to pretend to be a track-hoe in the stream. Bad mommy trying to keep him clean for dinner:-)
I’ve tried out so many nettle soup recipes, only to be disappointed. They were either too bland or too watery or just didn’t leave me satisfied…. until this one! Not only did I like it, but the hubby and both kids did, too!! Win-Win!
So, here’s what you need:
Nettle Sausage Soup (adapted from this recipe)
I think this is going to be one for canning up to have on hand year round!! Delicious!
The soil in our garden area is pure clay. Seriously! Red and solid! We put in raised beds when we built the garden area a few years ago. Still, I’ve had no luck growing root vegetables. So, this year, we built a root bed. We used what we had on hand (roofing tin and pipes) and constructed a three tiered bed for our beets, carrots, burdock, and maybe dandelion.
Leif insisted on helping by making thunder noises while running over the roofing tin (over and over again).
Then, he became a backhoe, which little 4 year olds can do, and dug out the root bed area for us.
So far, I’ve seeded the beets and carrots. With all this snowy weather, nothing has popped up yet.
We also purchased some 55 gallon drums to make into strawberry and potato beds. The barrels were cut in half and drainage holes were cut into the bottom. For the strawberries, Toby drilled large holes in the sides of the barrels for the strawberry plants to grow from.
I’ll put the strawberries in as soon as we get a litter warmer weather. I may put a borage (one of strawberry’s companion plants) on top of each strawberry barrel, too The potatoes should be here in a week or two.
I’ll let you know how they all work out!!
We had a gooey time last week putting together these adorable cloth baskets. We followed these instructions, only altering them to make the baskets a bit deeper, and using Modge Podge as the final coat of glue.
Leif tired of the messy, gluey hands very quickly, but continues to pick out fabric pieces for me as I glued them on to his balloon.
After we covered the balloons thoroughly with cloth and glue, we hung them to dry by the wood fire.
When it was completely dry, the kids popped the balloons and removed them from the bowl. I WISH I had gotten a video of this. The sound that the balloon made as it slowly released itself from the bowl was like a build up to an implosion. This sucking sound that made you think the bowl would collapse down to nothing. It was so crazy we all went wild when it happened!
It just so happened that the day after we made these, we headed to a fabulous party, hosted by the also fabulous Ashley English, in celebration of eggs. (She is working on her sixth book due out in 2014. This one is going to be about handmade gatherings and celebrations, and from the fun our family has had at these parties, this book is definitely going to be a keeper.)
There were, of course, egg hunts! Egg hunts in the bamboo forest…
Egg hunts in the gardens…
Egg toss and egg rolling competitions.
Silk egg dying (Yes! You are looking at a hard boiled egg silk dyed with an old neck tie that had elephants on it!!)
And a table spread fit for a king! Everything was either made with eggs or had eggs in the title We brought a pumpkin flan (yes! It was paleo)!!
And, to top it all off, a magnificent, melt-in-your-mouth Pavlova! (Ashley, this recipe had better be published, because it alone is reason to get the book!!)
(Folks, there were actually two decadent desserts at the party, one made by Ashley and the other by Dan and Jael of the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, and neither of them had wheat!!! What a treat!!)
“Just one more chocolate, mom??!!”
And when we got home, it was time to organize the booty. (There are three more silk dyed eggs here, too.)
And, in celebration of the egg, my ladies wanted to let you know how hard they are working now that it is spring.
Hope you had a lovely weekend!
AKA – Quick Entertainment for The Whole Family
Kaia got this idea from some friends of hers…. all you really need is a vibrating tooth brush, a nail or vegetable brush, and a rubberband.
But, it’s even more fun if you decorate a bit with giant pipe cleaners and googly eyes.
Just rubber band the toothbrush to the nail brush, turn it on, and GO!
We continued our studies of Sacagawea and the Lewis and Clarke Expedition this week with some basket making. We used a kit from a local craft store. It was said to be ‘easy to use’. Other than a bit of prep work (measuring and cutting the reeds, and dying a bit of it blue), it really was fairly easy to do.
The kit came with enough to make two baskets. So, I made one for Leif while Kaia made hers. Mine was much easier to make. Mainly because I didn’t have a kitten trying to attack the moving weavers, or jump into the basket every chance he got.
We’d like to get to fire making soon, but I’m hoping for a bit warmer weather first
My plan was to move farther into the 1800′s with our history studies, but Kaia found a book on Marie Antoinette that she really wants to read. So, we are stepping back to the French Revolution for a bit.
The kids and I have been having a hard time following any history curriculum. It seems like there are too many names and dates and too little hands on experiences. We find ourselves yawning. So, we put the curriculum aside and decided to do some living history. We’ve just wrapped up the American Revolution and are now learning about Sacagawea. The book we used was mostly about what her childhood might have been like, with a few chapters at the end about her travels with Lewis and Clarke. The book discusses basket making, salmon spawning, leather working, fire starting, and other skills that are fabulous to work into a homeschoolers day! We watched a great video on the life cycle of salmon, and I may pick up some salmon to cook over an open fire, or even try drying into jerky. Kaia was most interested in leather working. So, we got some scraps and she created different types of pouches.
She made a simple circle pouch:
And Leif helped me make one for him:
Then Kaia did a flap style purse out of some buffalo skin:
She and I both love how this one turned out!
They also worked in a full afternoon of playing in their teepees, ‘hunting and fishing’, and trading with the tababone (“white face”).
We wrapped it up with a fish craft:
Next week, basket weaving, fire starting, and a documentary about Lewis and Clarke!
Every year, for my kids birthdays, I make their cake… whatever kind of cake they want. I’ve made unicorn heads, construction sites, Ariel the mermaid sitting on an island floating in the water, and more mermaids….. you name it. It’s always a fun challenge. But, this year when Leif requested a Perry the Platypus cake I was stumped. How was I to recreate a little platypus with aqua blue fur without using artificial food coloring? There is just no good natural blue. Cabbage can be boiled down, but that ends up being more pale blue/grey. Blueberries are actually purple. Then I found these: Butterfly Pea Flowers. They grow on vines native to Southeast Asia and are known for their vibrant blue color. When steeped in hot water, they color the water a beautiful blue… the perfect blue for Perry the Platypus.
My hope was that the flowers could be infused in oil, too. Then I could infuse some coconut oil and use the oil in the frosting. But, no such luck. The color didn’t transfer to the oil at all. I heated them in coconut milk and got a light blue, but not the striking blue I was looking for.
So, I decided to infuse them in water, making a very dark blue with lots of flowers. I put this blue water over about 6 cups of coconut. I used enough water to coat the coconut, but not drown it. Then dried the coconut in the oven at 130 degrees stirring it every 30 minutes. I think it took about 3 1/2 hours to dry out completely.
And while I was soaking things in this lovely blue water, I decided to throw some hard boiled eggs in there. I soaked these for 2 days before the birthday party so that I could make some blue deviled eggs!
Here are a few other pictures of the process of creating Perry:
And here’s Perry. I put some of the coconut in the frosting as well as coating the whole cake with it after it was frosted. It’s certainly not as blue as the real Perry, but I think it turned out pretty dang good!
Leif was thoroughly satisfied with his cake!
Oh, and with his blue eggs!
Crossed the rainbow bridge after 15 years of faithful friendship and love.
August 25, 1997 – February 21, 2013
Max the Marvelous and Magnificent…
…was never opposed to being carried around. In fact, he preferred that his paws never touch the ground
…was a fabulous snuggler
…was a very snappy dresser
… was never afraid to speak his mind
endured was with us through two home births
…knew how to relax
… was fiercely protected by his lady love
(sometimes, a little too fiercly)
…had a great sense of humor
… chose me to be his mother
I already miss you dearly , Max!!
We seem to have no trouble filling our days with fun indoor activities while the weather is cold outside. I’m glad. I don’t care to hear the kids moan, “I’m bored!” (I’m sure my mother felt the same way about me
We’ve been writing letters and numbers in shaving cream on a cookie sheet….. and on his pants, and on his arms, and on his sweater, and on his socks…. (Kaia got into it, too, writing in cursive).
Right now, it’s actually easier for her to write in shaving cream than on paper. The kittens are a little too interested in her wiggling pencil.
Kaia and I took a spinning class a few weeks ago and I’m having a blast practicing. A friend let me borrow her wheel and this is what I made today. It’s my second skein. Next, Leif says I have to spin some bright blue yarn so I can knit him a Perry the Platypus hat.
and when I have a belly ache, my belly says, ‘I need chocolate truffles!!’”
(See yesterday’s post on the Truffles from Hell!)
Why are they hellish, you ask? Because you won’t be able to stop eating! Seriously!! Five pounds added to the hips in the last few days, my friends!
So, you still want the recipe? OK. If you say so.
Truffles from Hell!
Last year, I really slacked on the garden. I guess I was just tired of doing it all myself and wanted to focus on other things in the warm weather. I learned that having a not-so-great garden was just as much work as a full garden. So, this year, I’m picking up the pace and even growing some new things, too. I hope to encourage the kids to spend more time in the garden with me, and let them pick out some things they want to grow.
On the list to add to the garden this year is:
Have you ordered your seeds or planned your garden yet? What are you going to be growing?
I imagine I’m not the only mom who has to reinforce the knees of her child’s pants because said child spends most of his time on his ‘tracks’ pretending to be a trackhoe. Leif was more than excited to unwrap his new trackhoe shirt and wouldn’t take it off for three days! It was a really simple project. I pulled up trackhoe images from the internet and found one that I liked. Then I used a pencil to draw it on the shirt. I used black fabric paint to outline the image and let it dry for the night. Then I went back and filled it in with color (again using fabric paint). Easy peasy!
Happy New Year my loyal readers! I hope you have all had joyous holidays!!
We have had a very slow and relaxed time here in the hollar reading books, knitting, playing family games, snuggling kittens… I felt so lazy It’s very hard for me to just chill.
Speaking of kittens, they have been fitting in very well around here. In fact, last night I found all four cats snuggling on the couch and no one was hissing about it! There has been a bit of a competition for the only sleeping basket, though.
Cookie Dough and Oreo fit in there nicely together. It’s a great spot for snuggling and for practicing their ninja fighting skills on each other.
Max, however, felt it was his job to show the little guys how he could make himself into a perfect circle.
Of course, Isabella wanted in on the action. Max wasn’t too sure about this.
So far, there is no clear winner in the Basket Wars. Luckily, those not in the basket are finding other comfortable ways to get some sleep. Well, maybe not so comfortable.
Meowwww! Ninja attack move #286.
Oh yes, repurposing your holiday trees. Some years we will get a tree with a root ball so that we can plant it in the yard when the holidays are over. This year, we got a cut tree and decided to recycle it by making fragrant pine fire-starting bundles. Everyone helped snip branches, arrange, and tie the bundles. Kaia even cleaned out the lint trap in the dryer and stuffed some lint into each bundle (lint is a great fire starter).
Many Blessings in the New Year!
Any plans for the year to come?
I’ve been so excited to share this with you, but I had to wait until my mother opened her Christmas gifts. My sister and I recreated a picture from ~30+ years ago with as many details as possible. We are very proud of it! I still had the old desk. We borrowed the chair from a friend. I made a faux fireplace. My sister found the school girl outfit on ebay. And, of course, I had to get myself some new boots! What do you think?
So we have these two adorable foster kittens, right?
Well, Kaia has decided that she needs to keep them and that they need to be hers. She has been on a campaign to convince us of why this is a good idea. She wrote lists of the pros and cons of adding two kittens to our family. She debated all the cons: asking neighbors if they would be ok watching extra animals when we are out of town, offering to help feed the animals and clean the litter boxes. And today, she sat out in front of our local grocer and played her penny whistle to earn money.
Her sign says “Your generosity will help me adopt two kittens” She made over $100 in one hour! I’m so proud of my little introverted child. She’s really stepped into new and scary situations lately and has done so with grace. (And a wee bit of sass, as you’ll see at the end of the video.)
These two foster kittens have pretty much taken over our lives. They are too sweet and snuggly not to play with them all the time. In fact, I have them on my lap as I type this.
Here are a few pictures of our last week…
Attempting to convince the big man that he should be adopted.
Snuggling with the little man
Max has adjusted very well to the babies and loves his snuggles. (Or maybe he’s just getting too old to run away)
Or maybe he likes the heat of kitten blankets.
“This is my cute face!”
Taking over Max’s basket
And this is why I am having such a hard time working on my knitting right now.
And then there were three.
There may be no escaping!
Lion Tamer in training
“I know I smell salmon in there!! Lemme at it!”
All snuggled up by the fire.
Hmmm… Why, you ask, does the big doggie sleep on the hard floor instead of her cozy bed? Because of the giant, fuzzy monster that has taken over the bed!!! You see him?? He’s right there!!! On the bed!! He’s huge and has glowing green eyes!!
You need me to zoom in?
We are having our horribly rutted and bumpy road redone… Finally! I’m so excited. But even more excited than me is my little construction-obsessed boy. He would have stayed out there all day watching the backhoe dig if I’d let him.
In case you can’t tell, his left hand is his stabilizer and his right hand is his bucket.
Leif – (walking up to me with his hands on his hips and a stern look on his face) “Do you think I might want some marshmallows?”
Me – “Well, I bet you do.”
Leif – “Good. Then you may bring me some. I’ll be with the kitties, and by with the kitties I mean in my room!”
Later on -
Toby – (seeing Leif making a mess with his yogurt on the kitchen table) “Let me get you a napkin.”
Leif – “I already have a napkin, and by napkin I mean my tongue!!”
(I think someone’s been watching too much Phineas and Ferb! And by Phineas and Ferb I mean Dr. Doofinshmirtz)
Leif (singing and dancing) – “Mightin Machines! Friggin Mightin Machines! Workin’ for you, doin’ mightin things, they’re , uh uh, Mightin Machines!”
(I find it interesting that my son would assume they said “friggin mighty machines”, instead of “big and mighty machines”.)
(Well, actually in the living room)
Leif – “DADDY! DADDY! Mommy’s knitting you some blue and yellow socks FOR A PRESENT!!!”
Me (whispered to Leif) – “Leif, that’s a secret. Don’t tell daddy!”
Leif – “Never mind, Daddy. It’s a surprise!!”
Whew! Glad we avoided that slip up!
L – “Hey! Kaia! Let’s play the throw-up kitty game!!”
Kaia and I just got back from a fabulous weekend at the Renaissance Festival! We had such an amazing time exploring, playing, learning, laughing…
We were given magical fairy rocks by Twig the Fairy.
The Queen showed us the proper way to great another woman during the Renaissance times (air kisses) :-)
We watched a candle making demonstration. First some yellow…
Then some pink and red…
Then some blue and purple, and start carving while the wax is hot…
The candle maker has been doing this for 27 years. His designs were beautiful!
We took home this amazing piece!! You can see a video of how this type of candle carving is done here.
We got to visit with Mother Goose and her menagerie. (This is one of Kaia’s friends, whose family joined us for the weekend.)
We watched glass blowing demonstrations.
And took home this fabulous mug, the actual piece he was making the the picture above.
The girls were pulled around the fair in a wagon by handsome pirates.
And they danced with Madame Rose, who also taught them the proper way to curtsey.
So much fun and such amazing weather for our trip.
I hope your weekend was just as fabulous!