Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tucked away

If you happen to stop by our little spot in the world you will immediately be taken by the littles to the Children’s Garden (which I am so excited to show you progress on!), and then, without a doubt you’ll be herded across the “field” to the “play place.” Tucked away there, at the edge of the yard, is a spot that is fast becoming a favorite place for discovery, imagination, creativity, and play. Tucked away in their own little spot, their world becomes whatever they like it to be. May 278May 288May 283

A favorite pastime in the “play place” is making fairy houses. It seems to my poor memory that there are often posts referencing fairy houses in this space…fitting as much our play, adventure, and reading time revolves around the magic of fairies! It is wonderful that the fun of creating fairy houses is in fact the creating as, despite his best efforts, the little man cub destroys much more than he builds. May 284May 286

(That’s not poison ivy by the way! She worked on the wall and roof for this fairy house all on her own and was very very pleased with herself.)

We have read so many books about fairies and their dear homes. By far, our favorite is this little gem. Barry and Tracy Kane have a solid hold on the fairy book houses market. Their work is simply magical. Chock full of delightful and inspiring images of homes created for the little fairies we love so dearly. It is endless inspiration. Go get it!!! Then find a little spot all tucked away and create a whole new world with your kidlings for the little fairies all around you. It is such fun.

Friday, May 28, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Okay…maybe two photos…and a few words!

I don’t often get moments with just my littlest little. With such an spirited and involving (and totally awesome) big sister I have to make an effort to find one on one time with my little guy. We have so much fun together when it’s all three of us…but special mama time is just so good for little souls.

One afternoon recently, while the big sister was off building fairy houses he and I had a marvelous time planting sunflowers in the Children’s Garden. He is a careful and attentive little gardener. Truly moments to treasure!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010


Recently I was standing at the sink washing up a few dishes…not so much in an effort to keep a good house or to be responsible, but more as an effort to control something. It had been one of those days. A day where children are unsettled and in conflict, when attempt after attempt to "rethread the machine" went awry, when fairies had become imps! It is hot and muggy and everyone is feeling sticky and icky and frustrated with each other. Because let’s face it…on days like this they are not enjoying their mama very much either! As I stood with my hands in the water and a little tugging at my leg, almost in tears, I had a sudden burst of inspiration. Take the megablocks outside into the shade with a blanket. They’ll love it. I needed some help, and I was grateful for it. It was pretty simple inspiration…as inspiration usually is…just enough of a change for all of us to save the day from total disaster. I’ll admit that what I was wishing for as I stood there at the sink was for the clock to strike 7:00…bedtime…so I could kiss them goodnight, see them sleeping so peacefully, pull myself together and do much better the next day. And in the end that’s sort of what I got…a fresh start…without the guilt of wishing for bedtime! May 257

May 259May 265May 267I do believe that inspiration is a mothers right. And it always comes. Whether in the form of a sudden idea, the kind words of another, a book, or even from children themselves…it comes! Embrace it…and by all means listen to it!!!

We had a marvelous time together on a huge fleece blanket in the shade with a pile of megablocks. They played so marvelously together that I even *gasp* got some work done on a block printing presentation I was preparing. It was so healthy for all of us. May 261After a while…with the boy going strong with the blocks my girl and I did a little reading activity together. It is super simple and she loves it. I simply wrote down a list of command words…she reads them (then he reads them)…then they follow the command. It is a great game and a favorite reading activity.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nauvoo Bread

There is not much better than fresh baked bread.  Well…maybe fresh baked bread with fresh strawberry jam…or maybe fresh baked bread with fresh raspberry jam…or…!  Soon…very soon!!!  I love to bake bread.  There is something so fulfilling about working the dough, forming loaves, and baking something so truly good for my family. 

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I have had my share (and then some!) of disasters while baking bread.  Different recipes, different flours, different ingredients, have sometimes yielded bricks, crumbly messes precariously held together by crust, tasteless chewy blah, and every sort of undesirable bread  you could imagine.  These disasters sort of take the fun out of making bread…it’s no fun to work hard to bake something that is not fun to eat! 

I’ve gathered a few solid recipes over the years that have proved their worth!  Largely eliminating grand catastrophes.  This one is one of my absolute favorites.  I have been making it as white bread…but you could definitely experiment with whole wheat and white flour combinations.  Let me know how it works for you! 

The recipe is called Nauvoo Bread.  Nauvoo, the Hebrew Navu means “to be beautiful”, which is a lovely name for a truly lovely bread.  But I believe that this bread recipe was actually named after the city of Nauvoo, IL which is also truly beautiful.  At any rate…enjoy the recipe!  I wish I  could send over the yummy smells it is filling our house with, or even invite you in for a slice! 

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Nauvoo Bread 

5 cups hot water

1/2 cups potato flakes

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup powdered milk

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1/2 cup oil or shortening

2 tablespoons yeast

10 – 14 cups flour

Combine hot water, shortening, potato flakes, powdered milk, sugar.  Stir to dissolve shortening.  When temperature is tepid add yeast.  Mix in 5 cups of flour and the salt, stir to a smooth sponge.  Add flour to make a smooth and elastic dough.  Let rise until double, about 45 minutes, punch down and let rise again.  Shape into loaves, let rise.  Bake in 35o degree oven for about 35 minutes.  Remove from pans and let cool!  Makes 4 loaves. 

We store a lot of non-perishable foods in case of emergencies and this is a great recipe for rotating these items when they are reaching expiration dates.  This is in fact the only  way I like to eat the many pounds of potato flakes we have stored!!! 

Now to join the littles outside.  It is just to beautiful out to be inside baking past first thing in the morning! 

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The house that Dad built

Do you remember the moment you saw the man you love hold your little one in his arms for the first time? Whether at home, in the hospital, in a car!, or anywhere else it is likely a moment that is forever attached to the most tender part of your heart.  I treasure these memories.  Memories of seeing the man that I love in a new, and very beautiful role. 

Since the moment he (finally) held our little girl, after a very long and trying labor he has been a wonderful father.  Really!  I treasure the few years we have spent together raising this dynamic little duo!  And tucked away in my heart, along with the memories of the first moments he spent with each of our children, are moments such as these.   May 166May 168May 169Time spent in a magical place to our children, carefully lashing together a fairy house for their play.  Is there anything more endearing than a big tall man building a fairy house for his littles?!?!  May 180

In truth, when my eyes are truly open, and looking intentionally, I find endless moments of beauty in the simple moments our family spends together.   Each tucked away in my heart. 

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Flower pot dessert

We have been thoroughly enjoying the abundant gardening time that has been happening around here.  Bare feet are in and out of gardens all day long.  Toes are dirty, hands are dirty, knees are dirty, faces are dirty, but we are happy.  Oh it is wonderful to work the soil!  And so satisfying to see little bits of green life poke out of the dark earth. 

We did some “planting” in the kitchen recently too!  You may have tried these in your own home.  We have some funky little bowls that are actually flower pots, and made some yummy soil to plant some blooms in.  The concept is easy…any sort of crumbly chocolate goodness for the soil and a fresh picked bloom for the plant!  The possibilities for soil are endless.  We used homemade chocolate pudding and crumbled brownies.  So rich.  So yummy! 

 May 227 May 229  May 231 Sweet indulgence! 

Friday, May 21, 2010

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

May 188

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trees…part 2

One of the most marvelous things about spending my days with little ones is seeing things through their eyes. Somehow in the process of becoming “grown ups” we lose the wonder and amazement at all that surrounds us that children possess. Tree bark for example is not something that raises eyebrows and captures the attention of most adults….but to children, my children, it sure did!

Did you know that tree bark varies in depth from 1 cm to 30 cm or 12 inches? Pretty amazing, huh!. We’re excited to return to this park and check out a tree there that has incredible bark and see just how thick it is!

Oh, if we could only remember to look at all that surrounds us through the eyes of a child. May 246

For the second part of our tree exploration we made bark rubbings from each of the trees that we collected leaves from. Rubbings are very simple…you hold a paper against the surface of the tree…or anything else for that matter…and rub a paperless crayon on the paper to reveal the surface underneath.

These rubbings will be added to our “field guide” to the trees in our yard. We are very excited!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Looking Up

I count myself very blessed that I can spend my days living, working, playing, and learning beside my two dear little ones. We enjoy our adventures together so very much. As they play more and more together rather than simply side by side I find myself looking up and seeing all sorts of new and silly adventures they find themselves on. They really are quite the pair.

I look up from my writing and see them constructing an impressive castle. I look up from my sewing and see them making a blanket fort, and a home for themselves and their stuffed “friends”. And sometimes I look up and see them making mischief together…which…though frustrating…is also quite endearing. And usually requires me to turn my head and laugh in secret before I turn around and be “the mom”. May 161

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When we are not adventuring together I rely on these moments of “looking up” for reasons of safety, sanity, and, (my favorite) sentimentality. They are, most often, moving around me, around our home, and around our little bit of earth at an alarming pace. And part of me realizes that that pace is going to change my moments of looking up. Soon, all too soon, they won’t be circling me in their romps, calling from their new “home” in the tree, and coming barreling towards me with open arms at the same moment that I “look up” to see them.

May 129She fell and bumped her leg … so he had to rest and hold his leg too…can you see it! It’s adorable…and oh so constant!!!

I know it will change…much too soon. And somehow…somehow…knowing that helps with the moments, hours, days, and weeks, that find me looking up to bits of mischief, moments of insanity, too much little brother doing the exact same thing as the big sister, messes, and general “liveliness”! So for now…when I am not romping along with them, I “look up” and take mental (and sometimes real!) pictures of these early days of our family. And I am happy. Because they are happy. Free and happy, knowing that somewhere nearby their mother is looking up at them. May 162 May 165

Monday, May 17, 2010


Today’s post comes straight (unedited) from the mouth of our little fairy. I dearly wish I could share the hand gestures and expressions also…alas, her words will have to stand alone! She is quite excited about her first blog post…! May 206

I was playing outside and making a fairy house and my dad found a “callapitter” and we took it inside and put it in a huge jar from the basement. And we put it on the porch on our nature table. I tried to make its natural habitat with a twig and some dandelions and some leaves and lots of stuff from the woods. And it was yellow and white. The kind of caterpillar that it was... it was a Chinese Gypsy Moth. I named it wonder because it wonders all the time what it’s home is. May 204May 208

If you don’t know what leaf it eats then sometime... then you can bring it outside and put it on a flat place on a rock or something and take it out of your jar and get leaves and see if it will eat the leaves. To tell if it eats one you see if it has little bites out of it. We should not touch it all the time. We should just touch it once in the day, but we can watch it though. May 217

It’s going to make a cocoon and turn into a butterfly.

May 220That’s all.May 223

We found some great information about keeping a little caterpillar happy here. And here is a guide to identifying little critters you might find in your own yards.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Laundry Soap

Do you remember that shelf in my mind that I told you about recently?  The one that I place (seemingly) “impossible” tasks on…and leave them there…for a long time!  Well I don’t know if it’s the spring season, finally growing up, or perhaps even something I ate, but I have been bringing all sorts of  “things” down off that shelf and into my life lately!  It’s actually been quite fun.  A tad scary, a bit nerve-wracking, and the chance of epic mess and failure is always close at hand…but I’m doing it!  And loving it!

The latest conquest? 

Laundry Soap.

I have wanted to make my own laundry soap for quite a while, but it has sat on that  “impossibles” shelf surrounded by nagging questions.  Where would I find a good recipe?  What is even in  a good recipe?  How much would all those supplies cost?  Is it safe to work with the cleaners around children?  I have hard water…will homemade detergent work?  Will it be able to clean gardening and child romping adventure clothes? 

Yes…I’ll admit it…I have a problem with doubting questions!!  But finally it just came down to the fact that I wanted to do it…and that I really started to believe the many sites that I read that discussed the value (economically, environmentally, and effectively) of handmade laundry soaps.  So I just did it!  And loved it! 

Now I don’t really love doing laundry…who does?…but it sure does make me happy to pour a bit of handmade goodness into the machine to get to work.  So very happy! 

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Here’s what I learned.

  • My favorite site for recipes and clear information is  She also features a FAQ questions that helps a lot with specific concerns such as water types, machine types, laundering cloth diapers, laundering heavily soiled items, etc.
  • I was able to find all the cleaners required for the recipe I was interested in at Ace Hardware.  If you don’t have an Ace store in your area check your local hardware store…and of course all items are available online in many locations.
  • I was not able to locate Castile Soap locally…it is available here with free shipping though!
  • 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap will make 2 cups of grated soap flakes. 
  • It is very simple to make…just follow the recipe and mix well. 
  • ~1.5 cents per load….definitely worth it! 

Here’s the recipe I tried.

3 cups Borax

2 cups Baking Soda

2 cups Washing Soda

2 cups Fels-Naptha soap (grated)

Mix ingredients well and store in sealed container. 

Makes 1/2 gallon of detergent.

(I’m so glad I am happy with it…because it made a lot and at 1/8 cup per load it’s going to last a long time!

I am excited to try this recipe too (also from the list on…once I get a hold of the Castile soap.)

1 cup Vinegar (white)
1 cup Baking Soda
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup liquid castile soap

  • Mix well and store in sealed container.
  • I find it easiest to pour the liquid soap into the bowl first, stirred in the washing soda, then baking soda, then added the vinegar in small batches at a time (the recipe foams up at first). The mixture is a thick paste at first that will break down into a heavy powdered detergent, just keep stirring. There may be some hard lumps, try to break them down when stirring (it really helps to make sure the baking soda isn’t clumpy when first adding). I used 1/2 cup per full load with great results.


Happy weekending my friends!

Friday, May 14, 2010

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.                                                      

                                                                                 -inspired by soule mama

 May 088

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Tree Unit … and How to Make Leaf Prints

We have been exploring trees together recently.  Well…truth be told we are in the trees all the time.  But we have brought our exploration into the “classroom” recently and we are really excited about it.  I think this might be our first official “unit”, well at least our first “unit” with “portfolio-able” results!  I thought I would share the journey with you…not necessarily to teach others (I am really in the learning from others place still!)…but rather to learn from your comments and suggestions!  That is seriously the best part of this community.  I learn and grow so much from you all!!

We explored our little spot in the world and talked about the differences in the trees are in our yard.  Size, leaves, trunks, etc.  We went on a search to collect leaves from each of the different types of trees that surround us.  You need sticks to search properly…really!!!

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With our collection of leaves we prepared to make prints from them.  Printing is fabulous!  Printing with leaves is just marvelous!  It is beautiful, and is a wonderful way to explore the textures and patterns within the leaves.  We discussed the veins and structure of the leaves, the flow of water from the ground to the leaves, etc, while working.  Such fun! 

The process of printing is simple and repetitive…which is good for little minds.  Learning to follow specific steps to produce the desired result again and again?…yes, very good for little minds.  We printed each of the leaves (again and again and again!) in various shades of pink, and purple of course!  I have big plans with what we are going to do with these prints, and the next steps in our unit…which of course we will share soon! 

How to Make a Leaf Print

In her own words…!  Everything within parenthesis are my own inputs…perhaps unnecessary…but there for clarification nonetheless!  I just love how simple and to the point she is with her instructions…behind that face she got from her mama there’s an awful amount of her Dad in there!!

Paint it all (the leaf), and then print it.  Put in on the paper (paint side down!), then put a rag on it, then push the rag down, then we take it off, then peel the leaf, then we see what we did.  Then do it again.

May 072May 064  May 057May 060May 059May 061May 062May 074 

Up next…identifying our trees by their leaf prints in a forestry book, bark rubbings, ring counting, lumber yards, and wherever else our exploration takes us!