Monday, March 30, 2009

Web surfing for craft ideas

And came across a gem!


What a GREAT resource! I have spent the better part of an hour already, just wandering around the site, looking at a .001% of what there is to look at. Amazing idea... I am just blown away. Here are some of the great ideas I found just by wandering around:




I will be back to all of these places one by one to do these crafts with and for my kiddos. They would LOVE them, and honestly, I am ready for my life to be endlessly crafty again. No garden = time for crafts! Here at the Rose Garden, the "Year of Craft" has officially begun.

Next up:

Pictures

Some days just suck. You just want to go back to bed and start over. To stick your head in the sand and disappear. Me? On days that suck I usually hide behind my camera:




The whole day has revolved around the mail. Some of the mail was really really awful... other parts of the mail were the brightest part of my day so far.

Thank you Erika!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The messy #3 ~ 12/52

My little man.

For the most part, Logan just fell in with the rest of the kids. There was never that big huge "Omg, what did I do?" when it came to having #3 for me. One day he was inside me, next he was attached to me via sling and boob, and then he was just another kid in the house. There were bumps, but for the most part it was a very gentle transition.

Not to say that it hasn't made my life dirtier. I have seen tons of great SP's with these beautiful clean lines and beautiful backgrounds. Mine? They have bowls of oranges, Trader Joe's bags, origami cranes, stacks of paper, and craft sticks. But I almost like it. It is a glimpse of my life after all, and this is my life. I learned long ago not to apologise for my house. There are times that I rush around, trying to make it clean for people, but for the most part... we just live here. And that is what I say when people come over. "Beware. This house is lived in." You will never see the same mess twice. It isn't that the house isn't clean.... it just is always made dirty by the living we do. I am totally ok with that. ;)

And on a fun note, here are the outtakes from that shot. There were 29 of them. Yes... 29. lol! Most of them were of us laughing because he turned to see the camera as it started to "beep!" from the timer. After a while, we were both hysterical. It was a fun shoot.



My Better Half ~ 11/52

I know this is a copout for my self portrait... but it is so true. There are a few in this set where I have my hand on him, or I am putting my hand in front of his face... but none of them worked, and considering my husband is the king of looking smug in pictures, this all out smile really made my day... so this is it. Copout or not. ;)

My husband and I are so well balanced sometimes it is scary. Even when one of us is not at all in balance our self, the other is there, ready to catch. He is my better half, and for some reason he thinks that I am his better half. I am the crafty, domestic, moneywise, conservative hippie... and he is the rock-listening, extravagant, generous, witty, rock that holds me up.

We are opposites. Every person we have ever met... even if they have become lifelong friends, have asked us at one point or another "So how does your relationship work?" And we have to laugh... because honestly we don't know. But it really works. We adore each other.

Crafty, Crafty...

In studying Waldorf I have really embraced the beauty that they bring to their spaces. I like the clean cut lines of Montessori, but the beauty... the art of Waldorf.... Wow... it speaks to my soul. And it IS my daughter. She is LOVING this new artsy bent to our schooling, and eating up the new concepts and stories. This is the way she learns.

The beauty of being crafty, is that it is usually thrifty... (all of these materials I found at the dollar store or in my garage craft stuff). Being thrifty is really important right now. When I first posted this picture below, I was completely stressed out. The gas and electric company had just issued us a collections notice for the gas bill that we have not been able to catch up on... that there was no way we could pay it. We are figuring it out... but it has been a very stressful week. Add in some PMS and a couple snowy mornings that are followed by pouring down rain and house bound children, and you can imagine our week around here. When the sun came out last Thursday, we BURST out the door to the zoo. We have a membership and brought our lunches, so it didn't even cost anything and we had a great time. And that started a new week.

The two crafts I am sharing here are both from the book I reviewed here. Creative Play for your Toddler.

The mobile is just for decoration, but the fish are a set for Logan's Easter basket that have magnets in them so he can 'fish' from the basket.

The book is a wonderful, bite-sized collection of crafts and just the basic principals of Waldorf Education. This isn't a new thing for me... just a re-exploration of the ideas that I have loved in the past. For a while, my children had no plastic anywhere in their lives. I enjoyed the idea of living toys and my kids had mostly wood and then baskets of things like rocks and pine cones we had collected on our walks to the grocery store. But I found it very hard after Alex was 8 years old to find any 'open ended' toys that he was really interested in. Just looking was hard... there were things like this and this online... but that was about it if you didn't really know where to look and didn't have liked minded people around you. (Now there are way more than there used to be. HearthSong Magic Cabin I can even find good toy stores around me for these types of toys in recent years.)

After we had started the flood gates of plastic, noisy things it was hard to stop. They may not help with learning at all, but you have to admit, some of those toys are just down right FUN.

In the end, for me, it is always about balance. Sometimes I go one direction and we watch lots of movies (esp when we are sick), play with plastic toys, and do no crafts at all... other times, we don't watch movies for weeks, and we have crafts going all over the house where wool, paper, wood, and seedlings abound. We are in one of those times right now. The times where my kids draw all day long and after they are in bed, I drink tea and do crafts like the ones pictured here. I like both times for different reasons at different stages in our lives. But the ones like these sure are prettier. ;)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A trip to the Zoo

My adorable boys.

These are the two cute sun bathing Lemurs!

This is their evil cousin, planning evil deeds.
The whales were really active and playing with all the kids... it was pretty amazing to see.

"I see you!"

The rest of the pictures here.

One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish ~ 10/52

Can't be deep. Brain is empty.

So here is a quote from Alex's favorite book:

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.
Black fish, blue fish, old fish, new fish.
This one has a little star, this one has a little car.
Say! What a lot of fish there are.
Yes, some are red and some are blue, some are old and some are new. Some are sad. And some are glad. And some are very very bad.
Why are they sad, glad, and bad? I do not know.
Go ask your dad.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Sweetest Sister

I came home from the chiropractor this morning to Logan asleep in Cyan's arms in a fort she built in the dining room. This baby really feels at home with his siblings. I am proud to have such a great big brother and sister for him to feel comfortable with.

Menu Monday

Nothing too special this week. Once again I am making pumpkin muffins... except I have ran out of the organic canned pumpkin I came across at my local discount store for 4/$1... so I have to get some more... at full price. Sigh. But I love those little baked goodies, yes I do. I also added my new found WW rolls to the menu, although I may try this one that Sadie sent me. It looks amazing!

I also have added baked potatoes to our menu. I have been trying to give up my microwave. So far the only real difference is that I go through more sauce pans. And only having one, that sucks. I wash it about three times a day. But baked potatoes were a microwave staple (9 minutes makes a good potato as opposed to an hour in the oven). Quite honestly, I have made two sets of baked potatoes and one set of yams in the oven, and they are WAY better that way. So one more reason to check off the 'keep the microwave' list.

Anyhow... Happy Menu Monday!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spontaneous Gratitude for today


Breakthrough blue skies


Narcissus raising their beautiful heads.


Crocus, and more crocus.


A pair of courting Mourning Doves in my trees... crooning to each other as I woke up.


Beautiful daffodil heads.


My own personal fairytale... Rapunzel and her prince.

Bubbles...



Spill proof caps.

The Place Where Bread Comes to Die...

This is my kitchen. I have never been good at baking. Over the years of being a good cook, I figured out simple things like quick breads, and the occasional muffin or two. But even garlic bread bought from the store just being warmed up usually ended up charred and black in my stove. (This has been true on MANY occasions.)

I have wanted to bake my own bread for years, but I just didn't have the knack for baking.

When my mom came up about this time last year, she tried to help me. But even with her, a seasoned and wonderful baker, looking over my shoulder, my bread turned out to be better used as a shot put than a tasty way to make a good sandwich. I gave up shortly after she left and didn't look back. Until...

St Patrick's Day I was having a big party, but had spent all of my party funds on really good Nitrite free corn beef, and didn't save any cash for bread. But I had eggs, and milk, and whole wheat flour. And thus, a Phoenix was born.

Adapted from the Milk Bread Recipe in the Joy of Cooking.

Combine in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes:

1 packet (2 1/4 tablespoons) active dry yeast

3 Tbs warm water (not too hot. Think baby bath water.)

Add:

1 cup milk (warm)

5 Tbs melted butter

3 Tbs raw sugar

1 tea sea salt

Mix on low speed for 1 minute. Gradually stir in:

2 cups white whole wheat or 'hard white' flour

Gradually add in until moist but not sticky:

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

Kneed with a pastry hook for 5 minutes or more and transfer to a floured board and kneed for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with olive oil in it and turn it over so the well oiled side is on top. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth napkin or kitchen towel, and let rise for in a warm place until doubled in volume. About 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough, knead briefly and shape into clover rolls in a muffin tin and let rise until again doubled in size, covered with the damp cloth again (about another hour). (Clover rolls are three med sized balls of dough put together in a muffin cup.)

Cook at 375* for 20 minutes or until the top is nice and brown.

Spread with butter and drizzle with raw honey and enjoy.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Inspiring cooks

I cook three times a day. Breakfast and lunch are usually easy. Something that requires less than 30 minutes worth of time. Dinner is usually more involved, and takes more time to plan and prepare. But because I love it, I do it. And I love finding new recipes. I enjoy lots of different kinds of foods, and my favorites always include lots of veggies.

My husband has very different tastes from me. And he isn't a cook. His staples (for the last decade!) have been mac and cheese from a box, and spaghetti from a jar when he is forced (ie: I am not home) to make food. So far this year though (2009), he has been making recipes. My husband. Making recipes! I have been with this man for over 10 years and he has never made a recipe. But now he has two that he is perfecting. And I heard him say this evening after one of his new signature dinners... actually the phrase was so out of character I was sure I was hallucinating:

"You know, I really like this dish better with more leeks."

Stutter stutter, gasp gasp...

I think I am making cooks... all over the place. First Cyan, then Alex, then Logan, and now Don.

What will I do? My kitchen is getting crowded.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Logan's new passtime

Logan has taken to 'cooking'... which for him means that whatever snack he is given gets dropped into a clean cast iron pan that he has just taken out of the cupboard and then swirled around a few times with a big spoon while he eats it.

It has lasted days now and it is completely adorable! He has taken to saying "I cook." quite often and feeding us his creations... which are literally the same thing we just gave him a moment before. lol... but he sure is adorable! (Excuse the nap head.)


"I, cook!"


"I. Cook. Eggs."


"Hey Logan, do you want to stay with Alex, or go bye-bye with mom and dad?"

"Ummmm... I cook."

Sometimes I just do nothing...

This week, Don hurt his back. And after last week being so crazy full and fun, and then this week starting out with sore shoulders for me and a pinched nerve for the dh, we have been taking it easy. A little too easy. I have been doing lots of reading. Currently I am in the middle of a couple of books and then glancing and getting ideas from others, but there are two I feel compelled to mention.

Creative Play for Your Toddler

This book is packed full of amazing ideas for playing with toddlers. I seriously was looking through it saying "Wow, I have to make this for Logan!" "Oh, I have to make THIS for Logan." "Oh wow. I think Logan needs one of these too." lol! There are tons of crafts that are pretty easy and then there are some knitting ones for those of you with nimble fingers like Katie. ;) But all seem like fun, and all are natural materials. Some are so cool that Cyan (who was sitting next to me) asked for them for her birthday. The stick doll house was particularly cool!

Fresh from the Garden Cookbook

This is a book my best friend and I have been looking for for quite a while. We both absolutely LOVED Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbra Kingsolver, but we also were frustrated that although all of her ideas were great, most were for the area she was in... which is far from here. Makes perfect sense as she was writing about local living. lol... But makes it difficult to implement for the beautiful Pacific NW. Well, this author, Ann Lovejoy, writes just for the Pacific NW... in fact, she lives up on an island about an hour from here and the area is her muse. Recipes, stories, different little tips on how to grow year round... and all for right here in my area. This is a book I will have to own.

I keep wanting to know if she is related to Sharon Lovejoy, my favorite children's garden author.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Super Size Me

What did I do all day? I cleaned my house and watched anti fast food propaganda. lol!

This is the third time I have seen this film, but I watched it twice in close secession when it first came out and then now (which is 5 years later). It is amazing what time has done to this movement... and I still find it amazing what happened to a really healthy guy in just a month of that crap. If there was ever a boost to the slow food movement it has been the two films I watched today. They are SCARY.

This is a must see... I wouldn't just say for adults either. Although Alex is more interested in the disgusting animal treatment going on to produce fast food, it wasn't lost on him at all that it is terrible for you... and for the environment. In fact, after watching McLibel he kept asking me "Then why is there STILL McDonald's like EVERYWHERE!?!"

The other impact that I hadn't put together before was the commercialism of the food industry. I have to admit that not having cable has made me sort of oblivious to the commercial industry. In Alex's lifetime, we have had cable television for less than a year total. But that doesn't make me insusceptible to their little ploys. Until half way through the Super Size Me movie, I was craving junk food. I got up, got myself two homemade WW Sugar Cookies and a tiny bowl of veggie chili I made the other day. After I wasn't hungry at all, the effects were nill... which was helped by Morgan throwing up McD's all over the side of his car half way through the movie. But when I was hungry, fast food was all I could think about. Sad sad sad the way these commercials effect you... even when they are part of a educational parody!

BTW, both of these movies are available on direct watch from Netflix. No mail necessary.

McLibel

This movie is all about a real legal battle between two people and a HUGE corporation. It was interesting, but definitely a documentary. This law suit, however, changed the legal system in the UK and started the recession of the largest food chain in the world, so personally I thought it very worth watching and I enjoyed it very much.

Alex watched it with me and was appalled at the portion that talked about McDonald's animal cruelty... He has decided never to eat there again. Not even if someone takes him there. I don't know if that will stand the test of time or not, but since I was vegetarian by my own right my entire childhood (until 23)... It could happen.

I recommend this movie for those of us who want to know the ins and outs of the food industry, but it isn't light watching. I wouldn't even say it was light, like Super Size Me was 'light'. It was one of those courtroom dramas, that sometimes is better read in a short summery than watching an 1.5 hr documentary about.

Speaking of which... the short summery is here:


In the video cometary there is a interview scattered throughout from Eric Slosser (author of Fast Food Nation) that brings up lots of interesting facts and support. I found that these scattered interviews (there were many more people who supported them as well, he was just the one I knew the best) were very helpful at understanding all the legal jargon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Food/Money Debate

Gosh darnit... We are trying so hard to save for a house, but everything just keeps going up, and before we know it, we are dipping into our savings for things like gas or groceries. I menu plan, I make shopping lists, and stick with them, we've eaten out about twice a month since Christmas. And yet, our food bill just keeps going up. I know this has to do a lot with the food prices going up... that doesn't make it less frustrating. Today, at Trader Joe's (which is my favorite chain store) the organic black beans that were $.89 a can in my price book last year were $1.09 today. The organic pasta that I always get was $.99/lb... which is AWESOME, and honestly $1.29 today is still awesome... but when those are our 'quick foods' and they cost that much more... well you can imagine how our other food costs look.

We started with this great organic distributing co two months ago, and I think we are going to have to cancel. It isn't that it is that spendy, but they give us things for our $25 a week that I wouldn't buy. I would not buy an organic pineapple from Hawaii. I wouldn't buy organic Kiwi. And the things I would buy are easy to find at the Fred Meyers down the street. Organic oranges, organic apples and pears from WA. Yes... I can find them around here. I am dedicated to organic dairy and organic free range chicken and beef.... which I can find at TJ's and I only eat about twice a week now for prices sake.

I keep thinking about skimping on the good stuff. Just buy the BGH2 free milk instead of organic... it saves you $2.50 per gallon. Why not? But I just can't. We only use milk to eat cereal and cook with... none of us just have a glass of milk. But honestly, if we did that would make the organic MORE important... not less. I stocked up on meat when we got our tax return and I am SO glad. It is helping our grocery bill quite a bit right now... but not enough.

Sometimes I wish I was ignorant.

Papercraft

My Spring binder all pretty and stuff. I have a binder for each season (two for winter) and these binders hold a lot of my ideas, print outs of things I enjoyed, even maps for events that we will want to do again in the future. They were all in stuffy white binders... I thought it was time to make them pretty.

This is my late winter binder... it holds all my ideas for New Years, Valentine's Day, and St Patrick's day.

It was my dear friend Jessica's birthday last week, and I am late... but I hope this gift will be well received.


It took me a while to figure out faces (I had never done them before)... I decided that abstract was best. I think it turned out cute.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Alex's Origami

As Alex grows up, there are days where I feel worse and worse about my parenting skills. I am sure that most parents of teens feel like this at one point or another. One day you are completely logical, and the next day you feel like you are about to loose your mind, rip their face off, or both. I find myself speaking so much more violently than I ever did before, even if it is mostly to my friends and husband. The newest thing he has been doing is thinking about something that seems logical, and trying to pass it on as fact. I COMPLETELY remember thinking that something made enough sense that I could pass it off as seeing it in a movie, or reading it in a text book. I try to have patience. I know I did it too.... but wow. It takes a LOT of patience to argue with someone over a hypothetical figment of their imagination.

He is the most stressful, exasperating, frustrating, wonderful, sweet, amazing kid I have ever known. Every day I go over the roller coaster of emotions that it takes to deal with a nearly teenager, and I think all sorts of insane things... and all sorts of wonderful things.

Yesterday I had an epiphany... he is a great kid. Like, not just a good kid, a GREAT kid. He is tiresome, but he is also almost 13 years old, and as far as nearly 13 year olds go, I have it so good. I have done a great job lately of seeing the good and the bad of the stage he is at... but I hadn't compared him to myself (or anyone else) at his age before. By 13 I was horrible. Horribly broken, but horrible. Angry, vicious, quick thinking, talked a lot and was smart. Bad combo.

In comparison even to the teens and tweens I know (who are all decent kids) Alex is one of the best of them. It was a nice breath of fresh air to think of it like that.

Homeschool has been so wonderful for us. At first I thought we were doing great because I wasn't anymore annoyed with him than when he was gone 8 hours a day. And that was an improvement. Now it is even better than that... even if some days the bad stuff is all I can think about (and talk about).


His hobby lately has been doing origami while I am doing papercraft... and he has decided to try to make 1,000 cranes. I am getting him the book and DVD of Sadoko and the One Thousand Cranes.

Did I mention, amazing kid?