Kaia’s Owl Sweater

After knitting myself an Owl Sweater last winter, Kaia has been asking for one of her own.  It’s such a fun and quick knit, how could I refuse?  Here is the kids owlet pattern.

Kaia picked out the colors and I love how it turned out!  You can’t tell in these pictures, but the grey has silver sparkles in it!!

She wanted to wear it today, but it was up in the 80’s!  She may have a good lesson in patience if this heat continues through this month!

Raspberry Figgy Puddin’ Fudge

Right now, we have raspberries and figs coming out the wazoo!  The raspberries get eaten by the fist full, canned up, put in smoothies…..  I’m sure I can do the same with the figs, but this is our first year harvesting them, and I’m still learning what to do with figs.  I mean, you can only eat so many of them without your bowels talking to you, you know?

So, I was having a hankering for something sweet, the kitchen counter was covered in raspberries and figs, and my food processor was calling to me.

Raspberry Figgy Puddin’ Fudge  (makes ~40)

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup dates (chopped)
  • 1 cup fresh raspberreis
  • 10 fresh figs
  • liquid stevia
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
Put your almonds in the food processor and grind them up to a pretty fine consistency.  Then, put in the dates and do the same.  Add the raspberries, figs, and 60 drops (that’s about 2 squirts) of stevia and blend it in with the almonds and dates.  You should have a pretty pink mush 🙂  Add the cocoa powder, coconut, and vanilla and keep pulsing.  Then add the coconut oil and blend until smooth-ish.
Place large (tablespoon sized) dollops of the mix onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and put this in the fridge for about an hour.  Once they have firmed up, you can put them in a ziploc and keep them stored in the fridge.  I can’t tell you how long they keep, ’cause we ate all of them in 24 hours 🙂
I really loved the flavor, but the raspberry seeds were a tad bit annoying.  Next time, I might try other fruits, like banana or mango…. or maybe avocado???


Settling in

We’ve had a wonderfully full summer with activities to keep us very busy.  But, with perfect  timing, the weather has started to turn a bit cooler just as we are beginning to settle in to our school year and we are feeling ourselves begin to calm down a bit.

Leif LOVES his ‘school’ time.  He fusses when I put the books away.  He and Kaia spent an hour playing with his new wooden letters yesterday.  I sat and knit while she did the lesson for me 🙂

We’ve been putting up our harvests:

Raspberry/Elderberry Mead, Raspberry Jam with chocolate mint, Raspberries and Peaches in a light syrup, Peach/Apple Hard Cider, Cinnamon Peaches, Peach/Lavender Butter, Green Beans, Pickled Green Beans…

Peaches and Raspberries in a light syrup

And watching our little foster kitties grow big and strong (and very mischievous!)

Wilbur at maybe 3 weeks old

Little bellies getting bigger

Discovering new activities!

Kaia is finishing up a class on stage make up

Looking Older

Zombie Horror Makeup

on the left is 'plump', on the right is 'thin'

This was from Glamour day

We’ve been visiting farms and just enjoying each other’s company.

I have a general feeling of excitement about this Fall without any particular reason why.  I love this time of year. 🙂

What have you been up to?


My new habit

This is my new bow!  I love it!  If I could, I would marry it!  I found it on Ebay and took a chance.  Turns out it was a fabulous find.  It’s a Hoyt Pro-Select 300 Rosewood bow, and I have become addicted to using it 🙂

More Summer Bests

And of course, there are s’mores by the bonfire.

The way to make the perfect s’more?  Put your chocolate on your graham cracker (or soft ginger bread cookie, in this case) and place it on a warm rock by the fire.  This will melt the chocolate.  Then slowly roast your marshmallow over the fire.  Place 3-4 ripe raspberries on the melted chocolate, cover with roasted marshmallow, and top with another cracker.  OH YUM!

The kids crashed hard tonight after a long evening by the bonfire.  They are going to hate me when I wake them up at 3 am to watch the Perseids Meteor shower!


Summer’s best

Raspberries and mud pies.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

We have been getting 1-2 quarts of Raspberries every day for many days now, and we have many more days of picking to go!  We’ve made raspberry jelly, raspberry mead, raspberry ice cream, topped our salads with raspberries, and eaten raspberries by the handful!  I never get tired of raspberries.

Gettin’ Busy

Toby and the kids have been at the beach for the past 4 days.  I decided to stay here, in the cool mountain weather, to have a little time to myself and get some stuff done.  (I love ‘getting stuff done’ time 🙂

Aside from aerials, movies, a massage, archery practice, and other joyful stuff, I also made 5 gallons of Elderberry/Raspberry mead!!!  I can’t wait to see how it turns out!  (Waiting is a super hard thing when you are supposed to let it age 6 – 12 months!!  I always cheat and have some as soon as it’s done fermenting!)

I also canned up some green beans and jelly (elder/raspberry again because I had a big crop this year!)

I was inspired to can because of my friend, Ashley English.  Aside from being a fabulous author, wonderful homesteader, and mama to one of the cutest little boys around.  She also throws stupendous canning parties!!

I was super happy to be invited to her pickling party yesterday.  Whole Foods came out and filmed the party for one of their upcoming online shows, and other photographers were their capturing great pickling moments for her new book.  (Ashley, Kaia is taking a stage/movie makeup class…. next time I’ll have her out there with her little make up kit to make sure each of us is camera ready 🙂

I have to admit, I felt pretty important will all the cameras around!

We sat down around a table while Ashley talked about canning preparation and the ingredients we would need.  We created beautiful jars of canned okra (Moroccan Road Okra, she called it) and then crafted our own labels.

While this was going on, we also chowed down on FABULOUS local and home made foods (well, most people ate daintily, but I seriously chowed down!)  There were all kinds of  home canned foods, from pickles and okra to kumquats and cherries.  There were home made breads, artisan cheeses, salami, and kielbasa.  It made me moan!!

This is our beautiful host!

The family should be pulling into the driveway any minute now and I can’t wait to get some hugs and snuggles!

Have a beautiful week!



My grandmother and mother

My grandmother passed away on July 20th, just one week shy of her 91st birthday.  She had been having a very hard time these past few years so it was a blessing.  I never lived near my grandmother and didn’t know her as well as I would have liked.  But I remember always being very excited to visit her.  We’d pull into the drive way and she would be at the door waiting to give a hug so big and strong that you wondered if she would let go of you in time to catch your breath.  She’d accompany that hug with great slaps on the back, as if she was trying to help a choking victim.  No, she wasn’t beating me up 🙂 … it was a hug that told you that she loved you intensely.

Grammy always wore red glasses, and she liked to poke her finger into your arm and say, with a giggle, “Am I boring you?”  I never really got it until I was older that she meant ‘bore’, as in ‘to drill a hole’.  That was Grammy’s style of joke.

I remember when we took her to see a movie.  It must have been her first movie in the theater because when it ended she said, “Is this intermission?”

And I’ll never forget the time she called me into the kitchen to show me the special way she cracked and peeled hard boiled eggs.  She pulled me close as if to whisper a secret.  Then she cracked the egg on my forehead and put in my hands so I could peel it for her.

In 2011, I brought my family up to visit her for mother’s day.  She was having a really good day.  She even recognized her 2 great-grandchildren from the pictures I’d sent her!

She taught my sister to roller skate.  She let me slide down the carpeted stairs, over and over again.  She cut my orange into lots of little squares so my little hands could hold them more easily.  She wrote beautiful poetry.  She always had candy in her house, but she served me vegetables first!

These are the things I’d like to remember!

Ruth Mae Pelletier

born July 27, 1921 – died July 20, 2012

5 children, 10 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren


Meet the Flock

It’s a rainy day here in crazy chicken land.  So, I thought I’d head out to the coop and take some photos of the crew while they were all hanging out inside.  The big girls are all between 15 and 21 weeks old.

This is Dandelion.  She is a sweet heart who likes to hang out with you and occasionally jump on your shoulder!  She is supposed to be a Lemon Cuckoo Orpington, but she is definitely not that.  So, I’m not really sure what breed she is. (We had a problem with mites a few years back and I got a little slap happy with the Diatomaceous Earth powder.  That’s what is all over the walls 🙂 )


This is Daffodil, Dandelion’s sister, and Poppy.  They are both super sweet, too.  Poppy likes to be pet and is one of the few chickens that will let Leif hold her.  Poppy is supposed to be a French Black Copper Marans, but that she is not.  She looks more like a mix of Cuckoo Marans and Faverolle (she has 5 toes).  (Yeah, I got my birds from a sweet woman who seemed to know a lot about chickens, but as you can see, she was not such a reputable source.  Still, my chickens are awesome!)

Daffodil (L) and Poppy (R)

This is Zinnea (do you see a theme to the names?  All the big girls are named for flowers.)  She is a French Black Copper Marans and should lay chocolate brown colored eggs!


This is Snow White Orchid (Leif wanted to call her Snow White).  She and her sister, Honeysuckle, come from two full Ameraucana chickens, but neither of them look like it. I suspect there was some mixed blood in the parents.  I’m excited to see what color eggs they will lay.

Snow White Orchid

Here is Honeysuckle.


This is Thistle Mouse and Clover.  Thistle is a Lavender Orpington and Clover is a Blue Wheaten Ameraucana.

Thistle Mouse (front) and Clover (middle)

This is Violet Mouse.  He is supposed to be a roo, but I’m not sure yet.  He seems to be growing at the same pace as his sister, but he is developing his wattles a little faster than she is.  We’ll see.  He is also a Lavender Orpington.

Violet (in the back)

This pretty lady is Stander Rose (I have no idea why but Leif insisted on calling her Stander).  I love her color.  She and her sister, Tiger Lily, are fairly new to the flock and still figuring out where they stand in the pecking order.  She and her sister are Easter Eggers.

Stander Rose

Here is Tiger Lily.  I really love her coloring, too.

Tiger Lily

Then we have our newest additions: the silkie ladies and their man.

I wasn’t planning on getting small breeds this time around.  But, someone found this guy and brought him to the animal shelter.  I fell in love with his amazing feathers (he’s called a Sizzle silkie) and had to have him.  I have no idea how old he is, but he is the best rooster ever!  He’s so sweet and he does a fabulous job showing the girl where the food is and gathering them up when it’s time to go in at night.  He’s only been with us for 3 days but he made himself right at home!



Yes, his name is Millhouse.  Toby has been on a 6 year campaign to name a chicken Millhouse.  I finally gave in and we decided to go with the Simpsons theme for all the little chickens.

And with a little rooster, I needed little ladies to keep him happy.  Here are Marge, Lisa, and Maggie:

Maggie (L), Marge (middle), Lisa (R)

Maggie is the little black one and she is about 6 months old.  Marge, the white one, is about a year and a half.  Lisa’s coloring is called ‘porcelain’ and she is 10 months old.  These three came just 2 days ago and are still getting adjusted.  They like to hang with Stander Rose and Tiger Lily, which is nice because they have a couple of big girls on their side while the pecking order is established.

We haven’t had any eggs yet, but I’m hoping that the silkies will get back into laying once they’ve settled in.  And hopefully, the big girls will start laying in the next month or two!  Yay!! Fresh eggs again!!!





A big WELCOME to all of you coming over from the NY Times!  It’s really sweet to have you here.  I thought I’d put up some more recent pictures of the outside of our home for you.

We’ve been in our home for 3 years now!  The roof is filling in nicely.  It’s planted mostly with varieties of sedum, but that big plant in the middle is a lavender!!  I want to put a few more of those up there.  They seem to do very well!  And see that huge bush climbing up the side of the house on the left?  That is one of our fig bushes!!!  If the squirrels are willing to share, we might just get our first figs this year!  Woohoo!

The patio, walkway, and wall are all settled in (this was a new addition last summer).  The periwinkle is filling in nicely around the stepping stones.  We also have a patch of Chocolate Mint growing here.  The kids love add it to cookies and smoothies, or sprinkle them on top of ice cream.  Yum!

The roof has color throughout the whole year.  Flowers in the spring and summer and colorful leaves in the fall and winter.

This picture is from earlier this spring.  The roses were here on the land when we moved.  Every spring we make a new batch of rose petal jam and in the fall we gather the rose hips for medicine!

Thanks for visiting!

9 years!!

I wonder what she wished for.

I can’t believe I’ve known her so long, and I feel so lucky to have it so.  She is an amazing soul!

Birthday reading in her new bean bag chair.

One of her gifts, given to her at her exact birth time, was an oyster.

Do you see it???


Happy, Happy Birthday My Sweet Daughter!

Firefly Gathering

This summer, Kaia and I decided to consciously study survival skills.  What would we do if we were without our normal comforts, how would we survive?  What if she were lost in the forest?  What if she had to find clean water… food… fire…

I began a long list of things that I would like us to learn.  Things they don’t teach in schools that are supposed to teach our kids how to ‘survive’ in the big world.

This week, we had a fabulous opportunity to work on this list at the Firefly Gathering.  Only 50 minutes south of us, once a year, is an amazing gathering of people sharing their primitive survival and sustainable living skills.  So, Kaia and I packed up our hammocks and headed out.

During the 2 days we were there, the woods filled with tents, hammocks, and make-shift living quarters.  This picture above was taken as we arrived and the woods still seemed quiet.  We arrived a little early, so we had some time to wonder and explore.

We learned that there are many trade blankets and barter circles, but Kaia and I arrived without bringing anything to trade.  So, she quickly gathered sticks and began whittling.  At the trading blanket that we went to, people were looking to trade things like hand blown glass flutes, and hand crafted jewelry and medicines.  I was worried that no one would want to trade for a simple hand whittled boat.  But a sweet mother went and got her tie-dyes specifically so she could trade something with Kaia.  Very kind!

Kaia and I stayed for only two of the 4 days.  Her birthday is the same weekend as the gathering, so we left early to make cake and have a party.  But, while we were there, I took a class on starting a fire with flint and steel.  VERY cool!

Flint rock, piece of broken steel file, and my fire!!

Getting the fire going with a tiny ember.

It felt so empowering and satisfying to get a fire going with just a rock, a piece of steel, and some cedar bark!  I’m planning on making a little kit to carry with me, so watch out people!!

My second class, which Kaia took with me, was on snares and deadfall traps.  It was a fabulous class.  I think I’d like to get a book on this to really study some of the traps and snares in more detail.

Kaia, blocking one side of her figure 4 deadfall trap, so the prey has to enter on the side that will trigger the trap.

This is another fancy trap, I think the teacher said it originated in Africa.  Yes, our teacher wore only a leather loin cloth.  🙂

Snack break.

The third class I took was on making and using slingshots.  I really had no idea how potent slingshots could be.  I always thought of them as toys, but man, these things really packed a punch!  We started with a Y branch of a tree, whittled it down, added some rubber bands, and a leather pouch (to hold your ammo).  I was surprised how similar it is to archery in how you stand and aim.  I was able to hit targets pretty accurately.  The teacher is a well known archer and sling shot champion.  He also creates the most beautiful slingshots I’ve ever seen.

Mud ball pyramid, created after a heavy rain turned the parking lot to a mud pit.

My final class was on starting fire with a bow drill.  We created all of our equipment.  I have to say, flint and steel are so much easier.  I worked my butt off and was able to get lots of smoke and some nice embers, but I just could not get the fire to take.  By the end of the class, my hands had blisters and my arms were worn out.  Very fun though.  I need to practice at home so I can do it if I ever need to.

While I was doing all of this, Kaia was also taking classes on basket making and wilderness survival skills.  We both want to go back for the full 4 days next year!!!


Zion Adventure

This past week, Toby and I took our first big trip without the kids.  We headed out west to Zion National Park, where I’ve been wanting to get back to for the past 10 years, when I first visited there.


We flew into Vegas, on a nauseatingly bumpy plane ride, and hopped into our little rented Suzuki as fast as we could (we try not to spend too much time in Vegas).  As we drove out towards Zion, I was quickly reminded of the vast differences between my home in the lush, green mountains of NC and the dry, brown, harsh lands out west.  I feel so foreign here.  I told Toby that if I had to I could survive in the wild at home.  I know the wild foods, the predators to avoid, and where to find water.  But here, in the desert, things are completely different.  (I think Katniss would have had a hard time surviving in this Hunger Games).

The ride from Vegas to Zion is about 2 hours, so we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some food for the trip and drove on towards St. George to get a room for the night (it was ~8 pm by this time).


We were up early so we could hit the Zion Park office to get our permits for hiking in the river on Monday.  Then, we headed up the Angels Landing Trail.  It’s a 5 mile round trip trail up to the tippy top of one of the peaks for a view of Zion Canyon.

(An insane amount of pictures to follow)

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Celebrating nine years together!

This past Friday was our ninth anniversary!  Yay!  We really have an amazing life together.  So, in celebration, we took a hot air balloon flight.  Neither one of us has even been up in a hot air balloon.  We occasionally see them fly over our house and thought it would be fabulous to try.  We were right!

We got to the launch point bright and early, just as the balloon was being filled.

Here’s our pilot, Addison, from R.O Franks Hot Air Balloon Company.  I was a little nervous about our flight, but when he told us that he was a third generation balloonist and began learning from his mom when he was 15, I was really relieved.  This basket that he is in will hold himself and 12 other passengers!!

Lift off!

I have to say, I’m not generally scared of heights.  I’ve been sky diving and up to the top of the Empire State building, but there is something about looking straight down from the balloon that was a little disconcerting. 🙂

The ground crew kept in touch with us the whole time we were in the air and followed us from the ground.  That way, they could be waiting for us on the ground when it came time to land.  Here they are, getting ready to follow us.

We actually live just on the other side of one of the mountain ranges that we were flying by.  That’s why, when the wind is right, they fly right over our house!

Morning fog over the Blue Ridge.

Woo hooo!

The winds were really calm for most of the flight.  It was a beautiful morning.

Kathie, I took this one for you.  The rooster was going crazy when he realized we were landing in his yard!  See him staring up at us?

Despite the 14 MPH winds that carried us over to this field, the winds calmed and our pilot gave us a perfect landing.  You could barely tell we touched the ground.  The ground crew quickly hopped on and began securing the balloon.  I bet they won’t need any other form of exercise today after pulling the humongous balloon to the ground!

To make sure the balloon didn’t fall on us, they let the air out slowly and pulled it to the side of the basket.

The massive amount of color and geometry was just beautiful!

Have a lovely weekend!

What we’ve been up to…

As the school year comes closer to an end, we always seem to slack off in doing the actual school work, yet, somehow we seem to get more done.  I guess I don’t feel as stressed to do this curriculum or that project, and in letting go of that I feel more free to experiment.  I like that!

This past weekend, Kaia participated in the local Pine Car Derby race and took third place!  Here is her car zooming past the competition!!

I’m not sure how she got comfortable on the rock wall, but she always finds fun spots to read!  (yes, her ‘pleasure’ reading is any book from the Horrible series!)

I grabbed a book on Georgia O’Keeffe from the library for an impromptu artist study.  What a neat woman!  Kaia and I decided to try our hands at large flower art.  She’s working on her purple pansy here.

We used oil pastels, so our fingers were very colorful from all the smearing on the canvas.

Here’s mine.  I’m not sure what kind of flower I was looking at.  It was from a bush up the hill that was covered in little flowers like this.

And tell me, what is it about 3 year olds and chocolate ice cream?

This is Leif from this past weekend:

And here is Kaia from when she was three years old.  See any theme here?  (yes, I know, that is a crazy picture.  I think she stuffed most of the ice cream in her cheeks!)

Have a beautiful week!


Smooth Sailing

Don’t you love those days when it feels like things just flow smoothly?  Today was such a lovely day!  Leif let me sleep in a bit and Kaia woke up early, so we were all up by 8am.  We had a nice breakfast and then we just seemed to move from one thing to another.  There were lots of giggles, nice quiet contemplation, and enjoyment in just being together.  What a lovely start to the weekend!

Have a beautiful weekend!


Knitting for kids

I’ve been knitting for less than 4 years, but I love it so much!  It is such a soothing thing, the repetitive motion of the needles.  And seeing the finished product, this thing that I’ve created with my own hands, gives me such satisfaction.  I think this is such an important life skill for our kids to know.  Not just with knitting, but with the creation of anything from their own hands.  So many adults feel powerless to do things because they were never given the skills as kids.  “Oh, I can’t build something like that.  I don’t even know how to use a hammer.”  “I don’t think I could ever learn how to knit/sew/cook/build/craft”

This semester, at Kaia’s homeschool co-op, I’m teaching a kids knitting class.  I have 10 girls between the ages of 7 and 15.  Some have knitting experience, but most are beginners.  Right now, we are simply learning the basic knit stitch but it’s so wonderful to see their faces light up when they get it.  They may only get a couple of rows knit in the hour long class, but each class they build on that and their confidence in their new skill grows.  I’m hoping that, like me, they will find the joy in it to continue even after the class is over.

In today’s class, we took a break from the actual knitting to learn a little bit about where the yarn comes from.  A generous spinner, Lorri Helms, brought in her spinning wheel and two of her angora bunnies and volunteered her time to give us a spinning demonstration and talk about angora fiber.  The kids (and adults!) had a blast!

Yes!  That is a bunny on her lap that she is spinning from!  The loose fur comes right out.

She also talked a bit about caring for angora bunnies, and demonstrated the art of nail clipping.  Too funny!  He seemed to enjoy relaxing on her lap.

The girls then got to try their hands at spinning.

But, most of all, I think they liked petting the incredibly soft bunnies.


This week

This sweet cat will put up with anything…

I know! I swore I was done chickening.  But, I missed them!

Learning to have gentle hands with the baby chicks.

watching the world.

best friends

This is a picture that Kaia took of our tulips.  I didn’t know it was on the camera!  Doesn’t it look like a Georgia O’Keefe painting?

We know have 3 Lemon Cuckoo Orpingtons, 3 French Black Marans, 2 Easter Eggers, and one true Ameraucana.

We are expecting 3 more Lavender Orpingtons in mid-April.  Before they all need to go outside, Toby and I are going to redo their run and coop, and hopefully predator-proof it!

And I promise you, I didn’t give him illegal substances before filming this!  He discovered this game on his own!


My first 360 Drop

I’m just so proud of myself for overcoming my fear of falling flat on my face that I had to share this with you!  I’m learning all kinds of new stuff in level two aerials.  But, I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face after learning this drop.  SOO MUCH FUN!!

The importance of knowing where your food comes from…

One thing I promised myself when I began eating meat again was that I would only eat meat that was ethically raised and killed.  Grass feed, free-range, humanely treated.  I thought, by purchasing my meat from the local health food store, that I was getting just this kind of meat.  They have all kinds of signs about organic this and free range that.  But, a few months back, I asked the butcher to show me which meat was grass fed and he responded, “Right now, none of it.”  So, I asked for him to show me the free-range chicken and he said “We don’t carry that.”  I was floored!  I know it was my own assumption that got me into this situation, but still!  I asked about the sign hanging above the meat cases that talked about the importance of grass fed beef and his explanation was that they occasionally work with farmers who raise their meat that way, but in general, their meat was the same stuff you would get at any supermarket, it just had no growth hormones or antibiotics.  Well, that really means nothing to me if the cow is still raised in a tiny stall, standing belly deep in its own excrement… that is not the kind of farming I want to support.   So, I set about trying to find a local meat farmer who could meet my standards.

This Saturday, we took a trip only a few miles down the road to Beulah Farm.

View from the porch

A farmer's kitchen. Check out the picture in the upper center.

Farmer John, Toby, and Leif feeding the happy chickens.

We were greeted with a hearty handshake by Farmer John.  He talked with us about the importance of knowing where your food comes from and the health benefits of grass fed beef and pasture raised pork.

Then, we hopped in his truck and drove out in the pasture to meet the cows.  He called them ‘his ladies’.  They have acres of green grass to roam.  Their eyes were bright and they seemed to be smiling.

John talked to us about the butchering process.  He brings only one cow at a time to his butcher, with whom he has a personal relationship.

This is one of his bulls. Doesn't he look like a panda bear?

We ended up with 60 pounds of beef and 30 pounds of pork, and couldn’t be happier!  If I’m going to be a meat eater, then this is the meat that I want to be eating!!




It’s done!!

Finally, I’ve knit myself a sweater!  I’d been eyeing this pattern for a while and decided to take the plunge a few weeks ago.  I’m so happy with the way it turned out.  My only problem is that people notice it when I wear it, so I can’t wear it everyday like I’d like to, or they’ll think I never change 🙂  Here is the pattern for the Owls sweater.

Yes, one of the owls has different eyes.  He’s the leader of the pack!  He needed something to distinguish himself from the others 🙂

Toby was so impressed that he’s asked me to knit a sweater for him.  I’ve chosen the Cobblestone Pullover, but I’m going to knit all the way up, instead of changing to purl.  I’m excited to get started so I need to drag him to the yarn store this weekend to pick out his yarn.


My baby boy turned 3!!

What an amazingly lucky mama I am to have such a sweet, smiley, happy, loving little boy!  He brightens my day, every day!

We had a wonderful little party for him today, with friends and family, and balloons and face painting, and construction cakes… he was a very happy little man!!

I know, he looks like a crazy red-eyed demon child here.  I have a red eye issue with my camera 🙂

Lots more pictures below:

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Dear Valentine,

You are my love yes, tried and true.

I wouldn’t not trade you for the perfect shoe.

You give me love from all your heart.

You even crack the window when you fart.

You’ve given me two amazing children.

Though it’s cause of your genes I’d like to kill them.

You still love my figure after two pregnancies,

Even though my boobs reach for my knees.

You’ll take time off with me to play,

And know not to ask me one more freakin’ time if I want to watch that crappy movie – Groundhog’s Day!

Yes, I love you for all this and more.

(Like that time you killed that snake and put a hole in our floor.)

I hope that this day you feel loved, Valentine!

‘Cause your stuck, ‘Ball ‘n Chain’ and all

And you’re mine!


I love you, Toby!

Blue Back Hoe Undies

The other day, Leif told me that he would start using the potty more if I could make him some blue back hoe undies.  I said, ” you got it, buddy!”

Behold!  Blue Back Hoe Undies

Cutest Butt Ever!  One day, he’s is going to get tired of me chasing him around the house trying to grab those cheeks!!

Oh, the back hoe fabric is from Spoonflower and the undies pattern is from Fishsticks Designs.

38 Acts of Kindness for my 38th Birthday

Traditionally, on my birthday, I get a fabulous breakfast in bed followed by a day of fun and a break from responsibilities.  It’s always a wonderful day!  This year, though, I was inspired by another blogger to make my birthday a day that has more of an impact.  I decided to spend my 38th birthday doing 38 Random Meticulously Planned Acts of Kindness (MPAK).  I am completely exhausted, but it was one of the most amazing days!  Here is how I spent today:

MPAK #1 – Gave the kids the day off of school and chocolate cake for breakfast!  (Yes, it is a heart shaped, super-duper, chocolate cake!)  Toby took the day off of work, too, so he could join us!  Awesome man!

Then we headed down the road to drop some chocolate covered bananas off at the neighbors (MPAK #2).  We tried to be sneaky and left the treats on the doorstep.  But, they figured it out 🙂

MPAK #3 – I mailed a letter to two special people who I haven’t talked to in a while, and left a thank you note and some chocolate in the mailbox for our mail lady (MPAK #4).

Next was off to the library, where I donated some books (#5), gave the librarians a thank you note and some goodies (#6), and left a few dollars for the next patron with overdue fees (#7).

At the grocery store, we had a great time helping people load their groceries into their cars (#8), and returning carts (#9).  People looked skeptically at us when we asked if we could help, but I can understand that.  Unfortunately, most of the time when someone you don’t know approaches you it’s for something they want, not for something they want to give to you.

I had written up a bunch of notes with inspirational sayings on them to pass out and put on cars. (#10)

Once we headed inside the store, we stocked up on a few things that we needed for the day: balloons, flowers, tea, pet food, litter, and a gift card for groceries, which we gave to a sweet lady in the line next to us (MPAK #11).  She looked stunned and I don’t think she was quite sure what to do with the thing. 🙂

Then, it was on to the laundromat, where we taped some coins on the machine for the next unsuspecting clothes washer (#12).

We veered from my detailed and ordered list then, to make a stop at the local hospital.  A dozen balloons in the back of a Prius makes for a bit of a driving hazard. So, we thought it might be a good idea to drop them off first.

We had hoped to give the balloons to the kids in the children’s ward, but we were turned away.  They were concerned about the latex in the balloons.  So, I headed up to the Labor and Delivery ward (where I use to work) and they were happy to give them to the mamas there (MPAK #13).

While we were there, we also dropped of some flowers and tea for the nurses (#14).  It was a wonderful treat for me, too, because I got to visit was some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time!  Ok, really, this whole day was a wonderful treat for me.  How can you not feel happiness seeing all the smiles created by kindness?

Then we snuck into a few of the public bathrooms and taped inspirational notes in the stalls and on the mirrors (#15)

From the hospital, we headed over to a couple of friend’s houses to put love notes and a little chocolate on their doorsteps (#16).  Mmmmmm!  Chocolate!

By the time this was done, we were getting a bit hungry and headed to lunch.  While we were at the restaurant, Leif delivered some hand-made mint chocolate lip balm to a mama and her little boy, who were sitting at a table near us.  She was very thankful. (#17)  I also bought a white-chocolate brownie dessert and had it delivered to another table anonymously  (#18).  Because, again, who doesn’t need a little chocolate?  Then, along with a tip, we left a lottery ticket for our waitress. (#19)

From here, it was over to the park where the kids could play, and drop coins in the sand and all around for kids to find (#20).

Leif buried a few in the sand box and then dug them up himself, then ran over screaming about the silver treasure he’d found 🙂

We ended up seeing a friend of Kaia’s at the park and she joined us in spreading the coins.  She told me that I had to add that as a random act of kindness because she was having so much fun and it made her happy to join in the celebration. So, bam, #21!

We also saw the mama and little boy from the restaurant to whom we gave the lip balm.  She came over and said hello, let us know that she really liked it, and thanked us again.  By the time we were leaving the park, school was letting out and the park was filling up.  I wish I could have set up a secret camera to watch the kids find their booty.

Before we left the park parking lot, Kaia and I ran across the street and left a bouquet of flowers on a random doorstep (#22).  As we were getting in the car, we saw a woman and a girl come out of the house and pick up the flowers.  They both had huge smiles on their faces.  It was very sweet to see.

From the park, we headed to the Y where we handed out locally made soap to all the sweaty people (#23).  They all loved it.  One sweet man told me he couldn’t take the soap (this one was a little brown soap).  He said, “I’m fat and you’re trying to give me chocolate?”  He happily took it when I reassured him that it was only soap.  Each soap was individually packaged with the information about the local soap business on the baggie. Free advertising for the soap makers (MPAK #24).  Again, we met up with friends that we hadn’t seen in a long time and got to do a little catching up!

Then, it was off to the women’s shelter to bring some goody bags with toiletries. (#25)

Leif was getting pretty tired from all the running around decided to take a snooze in the car.

So, Toby dropped Kaia and I off at Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, while he and Leif hung out in the car and relaxed.  We brought them some dog food and litter (#26), then played with the kitties and a sweet dog named Ruby (#27).  We also changed the littler boxes in the cat room (#28).  Before leaving, I bought a raffle ticket, in Toby’s name, for a car! (#29)  I have to admit to you that if he wins the car, we will selfishly be keeping it 🙂

Our next stop was downtown Asheville.  I put on a sign that said “It’s my birthday!  FREE HUGS!” and headed out into the streets.  We gave flowers to strangers (#30).  When we ran out of flowers, we gave inspirational notes (#31). When we ran out of notes, we gave chocolate (#32).  I was stopped a few times by friendly souls looking for hugs (#33).  One couple was super excited to see what we were doing, stopped to talk and gave us huge hugs and lots of smiles. (Yes, I have put crazy blur glasses on them because I forgot to ask if it was ok to use their picture on my blog.  But, you can see their great smiles.)

One woman that I gave a flower to asked for a hug and then began to cry on my shoulder.  I held on as long as she needed and then gave her another flower.  I wish I could have given more.

We taped quarters to phone booths (#34), and put quarters in parking meters that were about to run out (#35).

I got a couple of movie tickets at the Fine Arts Theater and then left them for the next person with a little inspirational note. (#36)  We stopped by the fire station and brought a thank you note and chocolate covered bananas for the firemen (they were very thankful) (#37)

As we were leaving the parking deck, I paid for the next person leaving the deck (#38).

That’s 38!  But, we weren’t done yet.  I still had a box of books in the back of my car that was destined for a friend’s house.  So, off we went to bring her some homeschooling books that she has really been wanting but wasn’t able to purchase.   (#39!!)  She was super happy and said she felt like she was on a TV show with someone delivering a big prize to her doorstep.  We visited for a while and then, after a wonderfully long day, headed home… for more cake!

It was an amazing day for all of us.  Kaia is already planning the 9 deeds she wants to do on her birthday (Yay for role modeling)!  But in the end, I know I’ve received more than anyone else today, and I think I will be high on all the hugs and smiles for many days to come.

Oh, by the way, Random Act of Kindness Week is Feb 13th – 17th.  So, if you are feeling inspired, I challenge you to go for it!  During RAOK week, or any time!!!  And please leave me a note letting me know!!

Love to you all!











Hanging chairs

From the moment my daughter saw this in a magazine months ago, she has been begging me to make one for her.  So, this morning, since we have been working on types of triangles and degrees of angles, I thought we’d work it into todays lessons.  I planned on making a tutorial for you all, but I messed up so many times, I’m not sure how they ended up looking like they did.  But, basically, I took a 1.5 yard rectangle of cotton canvas and cut it on the diagonal, to form two right triangles.  Flip one of the triangles over so that the longest of the 90 degree angle sides are together.  Then, I sewed these up on the longest edge (that is not the hypotenuse).  That gave me one large isosceles triangle.  Then I sewed the two bottom tips together and put on a circle bottom.  I finished the edges with a nice trim and sew on a nice strong webbing for a loop to hang it from and voila.  Personal hugglepods at a fraction of the cost.  I know this sounds totally confusing, but if you draw it out on a piece of paper, it might help visualizing it.

Happy kids played in their new hanging chairs all afternoon.

Encouraging writers

It seems that every new school year Kaia picks a subject to rebel against.  Last year, she did whatever she could to get out of writing in any form.  So, this year, I’m getting super creative with her assignments.  If there is more to writing than just sitting down at the table and putting words on lined paper, then it holds her interest more.  Of course it would.  Most kids don’t want to finish an assignment if they are bored.

So, lately we’ve been doing Sistine Spelling (tape the paper under your table and write your spelling words a la Michelangelo.


Then there’s Invisible Cursive:


Write your message in white crayon on white paper.  Then watercolor over it to reveal the message.

Yes, Kaia’s secret message to me says “Hag but head.  Bla Bla Bla. Bye.”  She realized that she’d spelled ‘butt’ incorrectly.  It is a very important word to know how to spell when you are 8!

Leif’s hands were definitely not idle while Kaia worked.

Speaking of Leif, he’s been begging me for his own curriculum (yes, he used that word!).  So, we’ve started with All About Reading Pre-1  I wasn’t planning on starting any official schooling with him for a few years.  He’s not even 3 yet.  But he knows his alphabet and wanted more.  So far this is perfect for him.  Kaia likes to join in his lessons and be my assistant teacher, and they both love using their magnetic doodle writer thingies (what are those things called anyway?)

How do you get creative with your lessons?  I’d love to hear your suggestions!