Sunday, August 31, 2014

35/52 Camping by the Brook

"A portrait of my girls once a week, every week in 2014"

Elsa: seeing the world in a whole new way now that her shaggy bangs are out of her face
Oona: Always with a crayon and paper... no matter if it's Mama's sketchbook she's drawing in!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Little Doll Maker

So, my funny little lady started preschool on Wednesday, and I did indeed feel terribly weepy and nervous with thoughts like... "how could I ever let my little girl go off into this big strange world on her own?" But she did okay, and she wasn't alone... lots of lovely kids and a teacher and aids that seem very nice, and also a new imaginary friend. "Ella Korea" is her name. She lives in the white house next door and also somehow at my parents house and she is their daughter. She has pink hair and two braids and a very long pink flower petal skirt, and she is a Native American, and also somehow Oona's big sister... and Ella can do anything Oona can't do and fix anything Oona can't fix. An amazing friend and big sister to have... if only she was real!

There were a few rough spots the first day and so we celebrated with homemade orange ice cream and made a corn husk fairy. Oona has been asking to make dolls a lot lately, so with some help, we used are own tiny corn husks to make this girl. The corn husks were small because I keep having to pick the corn early as some little critter has been helping itself to it. Anyways, we dried the husks hoping to make a family, but only had enough for this one girl. Oona did the painting with watercolors, and Mama not so skillfully put it together.

This doll making fascination came about one day in the garden. She said she was going to work in Daddy's workshop, and so I asked if she was going to repair instruments (that's what Daddy does), and she said "no, I'm going to make dollies... glass dollies." As glass dollies were a bit beyond our skill level, we compromised on clothes pin and corn husk dollies. I  have no idea what's next for our little doll maker... perhaps paper dolls?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mermaid Family

Oona: Mama, can you make a mermaid tail for Little Oona?..."
Me: Ok
Oona: And Mama and Dadda and Little Elsa...
Me: Um... Ur... Ok

 Moral of the story: be careful the contracts you enter into with your children... they may take far longer than they have any right to

*The good news is that the little family can take off their tails whenever they like.

Joining in again with KCCO over at Frontier Dreams. Have a project? You can too!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Into the Woods

A gift for a small friend... another reversible apron.

Signs of Autumn spotted on our last camping trip...

Oh yes, now you've made a mess, time to switch sides!

Last week there was lots of time spent in the inside world sewing and dreaming of projects to come as the rain poured down outside. This week , the forecast is just right for adventures! I'm sure they await down leafy paths, in small clearings, by thickets of blackberries, under the moonlight and next to babbling brooks. See you soon!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

34/52 Mossy Perch

"A portrait of my girls once a week, every week in 2014"
Elsa: before her first haircut, touching every bit of the Earth around her
Oona: sunshine and moss... what more does a child need?

Lately I've been trying a practice called "Earthing"  (something we all do from time to time)... simply put, it's walking barefoot on the Earth. I don't know if the science behind it is right, but it definitely feels good, especially when done mindfully... just like sitting in the sunshine for a few moments... stepping on the raw dirt or sand seems to energize you! Read a more detailed explanation about it here! I think I'm going to try lying out on the grass with the girls today for a little while if they'll sit still... perhaps the beginning of a simple meditation practice for them.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Change in the Air

All summer  long I've been telling Oona that she'll be starting school in the Fall. Of course that is technically a lie, but school as a child is often symbolically linked with the start of Autumn. Unfortunately, Fall started very early for us this year with all the rain, so it's felt like Fall since the beginning of August. I hope she's not too confused by all this. Those big gorgeous sunflowers outside our door are saying, "Welcome Autumn! Come anytime you like!"

 Anyhow, back to school clothes around here are mostly going to be of the handmade variety, I suspect. The first request was for a good twirly skirt. Yes, it must have a good twirl or it's simply useless! Thankfully, skirts are quick to whip up. I'm going to make a matching blue blouse to go with it, and then she'll have a very Wildwood first day of school outfit.

Weather permitting, we're going to have one last summer hurrah before our big girl is off to school. My, these early years pass so quickly!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sunny Weather List: Moose and Mushrooms

Sunny Weather List: (a little bit of sunshine no matter the weather)
- seeing a cheeky moose while driving who gave us the raspberries
- nature walks with the girls
- collecting food for Oona's imaginary deer friend
- giving Elsa her first haircut
- making homemade veggie burgers today (recipe to come!)
- grand plans for making corn husk dolls with Oona
- harvesting the first potatoes and corn
- crocheting mermaid tails for dollies
- coffee with foamed milk
- hearty breakfast of omelets and home fries (yes, potatoes and many veggies were from the garden)
- homemade almond ice cream
- visiting friends in Montpelier
 - sewing a little something for Oona's first day of school
- baby sleeping in my arms

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gifts from the Garden

Garlic, herbs and mint hanging to dry, endless green salads with beautiful flowers to garnish, cukes that need pickling, freshly dug potatoes and pulled corn, bright orange and red tomatoes for sauces and omelets... yes, even though I'm sure our harvest could be improved, we feel lucky to have so much goodness coming from the Earth! I love to be able to make so many delicious homemade meals.

Years ago, we gave up on store bought pasta sauce to cut down on all the extra sugar and preservatives, and we've never looked back. Today I wanted to share with you our no fuss pasta sauce recipe, which is also great on calzones and pizza. It's quick and easy, and a zillion times better than anything on the shelves. This is usually enough for one box of pasta.

Wildwood Tomato Sauce:
- 4 to five medium tomatoes (Roma are good, but we often use the equivalent weight in cherry and sungold tomatoes... any kind will work... choose your favorite!)
- half a medium onion diced
- 4 to 5 cloves of garlic
-teaspoon fresh basil chopped
-1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped
- handful of baby spinach
- splash of balsamic or apple cider vinegar (optional)
- spoon of honey (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil for cooking

In a frying pan on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil and honey until onions are translucent. Adding the honey now gives a slight caramelizing effect. Next add the spinach and fresh herbs and cook a few minutes. Now add your chopped tomatoes and all other ingredients to the mix. Simmer for five to ten minutes, and then puree. You can leave it a little chunky if you like or blend it smooth. Poor back in the pan and let simmer on low for another ten to twenty minutes to let the flavors seep in. It doesn't have to cook for hours to taste great! Make sure to taste test it to see if you need more salt or honey. Enjoy! (We usually start the pasta water right before making the sauce, and they are usually finished around the same time.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Moths and Lightening Bugs

Finally, here are the matching dresses I made for the my little ladies for my sister's wedding as seen in this post. I've made this pattern numerous times, and while I was tempted to try something new for the occasion, I knew this was a safe bet that would sew up quick and show off the large print. I left the elastic out of the sleeves for a fluttery effect, and lengthened Oona's a bit as the girls' got long legs, and I wanted it to last a bit longer.

 The fabric is by illustrator Teagan White and part of the "Fort Firefly" collection by Birch Fabrics. I was lucky to get it during a big summer sale at Fabric Worm. It seemed the perfect fabric for two illustrators getting married in the evening. Oona says that they are butterflies, but I believe it's moths and lightening bugs. The lace was supposed to be used on my wedding dress, which I never finished, but that's a story for another time. I think it gave it just the right amount of fancy for a country wedding.

I ordered the star fabric on a lark, not intending to use the two together, but when I saw how perfectly it complimented the "Fort Firefly" fabric, I knew it was meant to be.

And so these reversible aprons were born.... a simple self-drafted pattern. They have a large pocket on the star side. Each girl has one in the compliment of her dress, and I hope they will have fun wearing them for lots of cooking experiments and magic spells to come!

P.S. I'm posting my work over at Frontier Dreams this week for KCCO craft share! You can share there too!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Starting Preschool

Preschool starts next week for my big girl, and while we are both excited, I think those pesky butterflies in the tummy are also present. Oona worries if the other kids will want to play the games she wants to play... Mama worries what her reaction will be if they don't! I've seen this three and half year old's tantrums and they are nothing short of a hurricane. But she is also a force of creativity and wonder and extremely social, and I hope that in our little school these qualities will be fostered and not stifled. It will only be a short day of two and a half hours, but I know that this begins her life in the public school system, and also her life in formal education. And while I know her experience will change from year to passing year, I hope over all she will continue to love to learn. Ideally, in a perfect world, where money and geographical location were not such a huge factor in education, the education I would dream for her would be more in line with Waldorf or Montessori style of learning. I do not know how things will be once she's in the system. (sounds like something from a sci-fi novel... completely terrifying... when you say it like that). I know that more of the consumer culture that pervades our society will come flooding in, and while I do not wish to shelter my children too strictly, I do not want her to become obsessed with commercial garbage and garbage TV. Try as we might to direct our children, they are their own people, will choose their own friends and interests, and the sugar coated pink and purple poofy princess dress world presented to little girls is very tempting indeed.

But all that aside, I am also going to miss this time we have together right now. Though I do think school will bring more rhythm and better sleeping habits to her life. I also hope it brings her a tad more discipline, as she is quite the firecracker these days. And I know that she will love to spend more time with kids her age. She thrives on being around people, and that is partly why we are willingly sending her off on this preschool journey. Anyone with words of wisdom on the subject of  kids and schooling, please feel free to chime in. I am a ball of nerves and a bit weepy over the whole thing.

* A side note: We are very lucky in our small town in VT to have the opportunity for free preschool. I wish this was an opportunity offered to all who need or want it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

33/52 First Camping Trip

Elsa: enjoying the view from the tent
Oona and Dadda: making some top notch s'mores to get us through
Elsa and Mama: dining in the great outdoors
Oona: my gypsy girl ready for the next adventure

Last week we had our first camping trip as a family... well, actually, our first camping trip together for me and Jake, too, as we've been without a tent all these years. it was mostly a success, even though it started pouring as we drove into the campground. I think it warranted a few extra photos this weekend.

A Few Camping Tips for Camping with Small Children:

- bring lots of snacks as they will eat half of them on the drive to the camp ground
- leave most the toys at home... they will be too busy jumping on air mattresses that took forever to blow up, trying to knock down the tent and playing with the flash lights
- if you have young kids, pick a spot near the bathrooms (ok, actually, this was mostly beneficial for me who has to pee a lot... Oona just peed in the woods and Elsa in her diapers)
 -not really kid related, but if you're bringing an air mattress, invest in an electronic pump... it will save you a work out and about an hour of your precious time!
- do not try to fit two adults and two children on a queen size air mattress... one or more people will end up sleeping in really weird positions or on the ground and your air mattress will be mostly deflated by morning... instead, just except that Daddy needs to bring a sleeping bag
- plan for rain even if the weather forecast is suppose to be perfect, and don't listen to your husband when he says we don't need the raincoats... that's a sure sign it's going to rain... and do check the weather the day of your trip, and not the day before, as these things can change

Friday, August 15, 2014

Garden Journey: Morning Glories and Dancing Sunflowers

Wet weather these past few days has meant my only trips to the garden are mad dashes with an umbrella to get some fresh veggies or herbs for lunch or dinner. So much is happening in this August garden. It is certainly a wild kingdom out there! Cucumbers and summer squash and lots of sungold tomatoes (my very favorite) are doing well... where are you zucchini? I thought you were suppose to propagate like rabbits! I still haven't given up hope. My gardens are usually a little off the mark on timing. The first of our sunflowers has finally opened, but we have quite a few long legged beauties that are nearly up to the porch roof still waiting to blossom. The morning glories I planted in pots and grew up our old wagon wheel on the store porch are finally taking center stage. And the morning glories I planted on the tipi in the center of the garden have finally started to climb and should be in bloom any day now. Soybeans for edamame and black beans have taken pod form. This is the first time I've tried black beans... I don't even know if it's possible in our region, but a local friend was trying it, and it sounded like a good idea. I don't think I planted enough to really make much of anything, but it's a fun experiment. You're suppose to wait until they get tan and then harvest, and I'm hoping they are not hurt by all this rain. Earlier in the month, I harvested all the garlic and braided it. I'm so excited to have a winter store of something. I never seem to plant quite enough of anything for this to happen. I'm also looking forward to making some pickles this year. So, all and all, things are mostly positive this week in the garden. And I am doing lots of plotting and planning for grand things next year. The corn stalks and sunflowers make me daydream about Autumn. Soon I'll share a few simple and delicious meals from the garden that we've been making lately. Happy growing!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Every Last Ounce of Summer

These days, whenever the rain isn't pouring down as it is today, we are running to the hills and forests and swimming holes every chance we get. Summer is certainly not over yet, but we know these days in the sun go fast! I love how everything becomes simpler the second we step out the door. Jake and I dream out loud together and take little mental notes of all that is possible when the sun is shining bright.

And there are so many beautiful gifts for us... free to all and you don't even need to take them home.

 But a few of natures treats to press between the lips sure make for some cute smiles!

 This red apple reminds me that the oranges and yellows and fire of summer will soon give way to the fires of autumn.

 But we will certainly soak up all the sun and frolicking we can when the weather's right.

 And lots of walks in the wild woods, please.

 And a run through the field.

 More muffins and jam to eat and divine berries to sweeten the day.

Before the cold winds drive us back into our hobbit holes. Lots to do and not do these days!