Thursday, June 30, 2011


As some of you may have noticed, it's been quiet over here for more than a week.  The silence was due to our recent vacation out to Reno, Nevada to join in the celebration of Naiya's Great Grammie Billie's 90th birthday.  We drove there and back stopping half way in both directions to spend some time in the lovely town of Ashland, Oregon.  I thought I'd share the sights and stories of our furlough a bit at a time beginning with our favorite new-found hobby...

Just before we left on our six day adventure, I had been perusing some of my favorite blogs and came across the idea of Letterboxing from Beth over at Acorn Pies.  What a gift this was!  After reading Beth's post I immediately googled "Letterboxing" and found the very informative and helpful Letterboxing North America site. 
For those who, like me, have never heard of this fun create, seek and search game, it's a kind of a local/international treasure hunt.  It began in the mid 1800's in Devon, England when a guide left a bottle of wine hidden on a trail for future visitors.  This morphed into future hikers leaving letters in various boxes throughout the moors for the next travelers to collect and mail.  Eventually the basic idea traversed the ocean and today in North America there are several sites dedicated to Letterboxing. 
In its modern form, small, weather-proof boxes (or plastic containers) are hidden in mostly wild public places.  These "boxes" contain a small rubber stamp (often hand-carved) and a notebook.  After acquiring clues via web-site or word of mouth, finders make an imprint of the box stamp into their own notebook and leave an impression of their personal stamp along with their name, date and perhaps a short note in the letterboxes visitor book.  (This is similar to geocaching which I had also not heard of until last week.)

The great thing about discovering Letterboxing the day before we left on vacation was that we were suddenly given a whole new array of possible adventures in each town and city we visited as well as prospective exploits along the way.  Even as I was walking through a park in Reno explaining my excitement and enthusiasm to my mother-in-law about the fun this could be for our little girl, Ryan pulled out his smart phone and found that there was a Letterbox in the very park we were right then enjoying!  Sadly, we weren't able to locate that box (we think it had been pilfered) but two days later in Ashland (after we had procured notebook and stamp of our own) we found our very first box!

It was a rainy day in Lithia Park and the box and its contents were swimming in bags of water.  We did our best to dry them out and keep them that way.

Within an hour we had found our second box in the same park.   This one began with a simple riddle that took us a while to unravel (while the first rain of our trip began to cascade in sheets from the sky).
After a fair amount of frustration, Ryan solved the puzzle and we located Will S. about forty feet from where we had originally parked the car.

For our first foray into this fantastic new diversion, I think we did pretty well.

We discovered the next day that it might behoove one to do a little research prior to setting out on a quest. 

When the clues for our third adventure said "go up the trail and pass the second junction..." we didn't account for a two mile hike up a mountain.

Still, we found "The Beautiful Butterfly" and caught sight of some spectacular views which we otherwise would never have come across.

Home again to Portland we discovered that there are over a hundred Letterboxes in our esteemed City of Roses.

Never a dull day of Summer again shall pass...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

summer solstice crafts

We celebrated the Summer Solstice a few days ago at the lovely home of our gracious friends Patricia and Jonathan.  It was an incredible day to proclaim the arrival of Summer in the company of a small group of wonderful friends.  Father Sun shone down on us all the day long as we ate a delicious variety of potluck food, ran and played in the grass and, in the end, gathered quietly around the Solstice fire.
The night before, a group of mommies had come together to prepare for the festivities.  The crafts and games all those loving hands created helped in our commemoration of the day and served as a reminder of the change of seasons during the playful pandemonium of the afternoon.

Using a pattern from the book The Children's Year, we sewed a chorus of frogs (stuffed with flax seed) for the ever popular frog toss.

The children threw them into baskets, over the badminton net, to each other and even tried to launch them into froggy flight from a teeter board.

As a fun and longer lasting version of a garland, we also put together some cheerful headdresses.  These simple wreaths were made from hand cut felt flowers, moons and stars.  After piercing the felt with two slits, we ran ribbon through the various emblems and then glued them into place with Tacky Glue.

The stars and moons were left with the ribbon showing through while we covered the slits in the flowers with little felt rounds.
These were also held in place with just a touch of Tacky Glue. 

We tied a few extra ribbons onto the main band to hang down the sides of the head.

They were held in place by tying a simple bow in the ribbon band at the back.

We also put together wrist streamers by tying ribbons onto elastic bands that had been measured to fit the children.

Naiya ran through the Rose Garden flapping her "wings" through the rows and rows of blossoms for several hours before we took them to the afternoon celebration (where they were mostly ignored).

(I didn't get a shot of the outdoor play so days later, when our little one fancied her flappers once more, I snapped a picture in the play room.)

We didn't do these this year, but in case anyone is looking at this post for Summer party ideas, I thought I'd add that at last years Solstice I also made fairy (or butterfly) wings out of construction paper, colored duct tape and little elastic bands that ran round the shoulders of the kids as they frolicked in the fields.

I found a bunch of different wing shapes and patterns by searching for butterfly images on Google and then free hand drew them and cut them out of the giant thick card stock.

Additionally, last year instead of frogs to toss, I instead made these cheerful suns.  Since they're just, you know, round, they were much easier (and I think actually much cuter) than the frogs.

The edges were cut from felted sweater scraps in a straight edged crown shape and then bent along the curve as they were sewn onto one half of the sun.  I added a few ribbons for streamers then the other half was sewn on before they were turned right side out and filled with flax seed.

A craft carry-over from last year's gala were the sprays of herbs.

As the daylight faded, the last remaining guests at our festival gathered around the fire to ruminate about the fullness of the season and make wishes as we threw our little posies into the flames.   (These aromatic bundles were composed of rosemary, sage and rue bound with jute twine.)

Later in the darkness we could still smell the fragrant herbs as their sweet scents filled the shortest night of the year.

Friday, June 17, 2011

our beloved school

I talk about our Waldorf school with some frequency here.  It's a beautiful place that is like a second home to us where we learn from life's teachers almost as much as our daughter does.  Here we gather with our friends, celebrate our festivals, witness the many talents of children of various ages, attend the occasional lecture and sometimes just wander the stunning seven acre property.  

We have attended parent-child classes and pre-kindergarten in the same peaceful room with the same wonderful teacher since before Naiya was even a year old.  As this particular school year came to a close then, we said our farewells both to the amazing woman and to that lovely room that has held us in its warm and comforting embrace for most of Naiya's life.  We look forward to our new kindergarten (just two doors down) next year but will miss the familiar comfort we have come to regard so highly.

What will remain the same when we return next year is the area in which all the children of the early childhood grades play.  As a kindergartener, Naiya will will become one of the big kids then (albeit one of the younger) as she frolics under the eaves of the barn, climbs on the walnut stumps or creates any number of stories and adventures in the sand area with old and new found friends.

But those are moments to come and our sweet yesterdays are now in the past.  Today we feel gratitude for our beloved school and open our minds, hearts and arms to whatever wonder the next moment of this day might bring...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

end of the school year and a gluten and dairy free recipe

I have been remiss in my blogging of late with the school year coming to a close.  We're trying to finalize some summer plans, formulate some sort of summer solstice gathering, plan for father's day (which is also Ryan's birthday), prepare to say farewell to our wonderful pre-K Waldorf teacher of the past four years and, most ominous of all, come up with an entree and dessert that are both dairy and gluten free for our end of year school picnic. 
This last one had me in a panic.  Finally I decided on chicken lettuce wraps for the entree and remembered one of the fantastic cakes we made at Naiya's last birthday party for our gluten/dairy free guests.  Of the four cakes, it was actually my very favorite.  Since that's what has been foremost in my mind today then, I decided to share this delicious recipe.  It comes from a woman who works with Ryan and keeps a blog of her adventures in allergen-free cooking.  We did it as a cake but it definitely works better as muffins.  So delicious...

Feel free to see her original recipe here or visit Elizabeth's blog here for more allergen-free recipes.

Coconut Zucchini Chocolate Chip Vegan Gluten Free Muffins

3 T ground flax meal
9 T warm water
2 c evaporated cane juice
1 T vanilla extract
1 c grape seed oil
3 c  gluten-free pancake mix 
2 t salt
1.5 t baking soda
1.5 t baking powder
3 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground cardamom
1 t fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground cloves
3 c grated zucchini, drained in a mesh strainer
1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips or nuts (optional)
36 paper muffin cups
3 12-muffin pans

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Mix the flaxseed meal with the warm water and let set for a few minutes. Mix these flax 'eggs' with the sugar, vanilla and grape seed oil in a bowl. I like to use an electric mixer. 

Combine the pancake mix, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and beat them together with the electric mixer. Scrape down the sides, and beat again until well combined. Add the zucchini, coconut, and nuts and/or chocolate chips and fold together. 

Prepare the muffin pans with the paper liners and fill the cups 2/3 of the way full with the batter.

Bake them for about 25 minutes, rotating the pans every 8 minutes or so for even baking. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, remove the pans from the oven. 

Elizabeth ends her recipe with this note:  "They would certainly be delicious frosted, but once a muffin is frosted it is a cupcake, and I for one have trouble convincing myself that cupcakes are an acceptable breakfast food. They are scrumptious on their own."

I completely agree.  Breakfast or otherwise.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

whitsun nature table

White bird is flying in the sky
Brings us a golden ray from on high
White bird has something wise to say
Just flown out of the sun today
Little white bird what news, I pray?

Here's a pure white shining feather
Keep it white in every weather
Keep it white for Whitsunday.

                                            -J. Marcus

In the Whitsun garden, white the flowers grow,
Earth is listening, glistening, listening, warming breezes blow.

                                          -N. Foster

Friday, June 10, 2011

when it just isn't funny

"Whenever my mom and dad laugh, I laugh because I want it to be funny for me.  But it just isn't...   So I just laugh."

     -Naiya Sophia

Thursday, June 9, 2011

sunset from my window

I didn't enhance or alter this photo in any way...  Excuse me while I lick the sky...

Monday, June 6, 2011

whitsun felt dove mobile

As I have mentioned in the past, I am a lover of things hanging from the ceiling.  For Whitsun this year then, I decided to make a dove mobile.  I've seen these made from paper, but since we have a collection of holiday decorations growing with each passing year, I wanted to make something more permanent that we could use again and again in honor of this observance.

I started by scouring the internet for a simple dove pattern.  It seems like I saw these everywhere during the Christmas season but after an hour or so of searching for a basic template, I just gave up.  From looking at photographs of bird ornaments, I fiddled around and came up with this.

I'm really not sure how to pass on such a pattern.  Perhaps one could download this image and print it out?  If anyone is interested and tries that, the scale is such that the birds belly piece measures    2 1/2" from tip to tip.  ( I don't know that it will print out to scale.)

These templates were then laid onto white wool felt and traced.  For twelve doves, I cut out 24 bird body pieces, 24 wings and 12 bellies.

(I had a single piece of 9" x 18" felt and had enough left over for three additional birds.)

Using needle and thread, the wings were sewn onto each body piece.  (To allow the wings to spread, the pieces were not sewn all the way to the top edge.) 

Note that half of the wings will be sewn onto birds facing left and half onto birds facing right so that these opposite halves can then be sewn together to make complete birds.

Switching to embroidery floss, the two body pieces were laid together and connected beginning just at the neck of the bird using a whipstitch.  From the neck, I stitched forward to the beak, over the head and down the back until reaching the narrowest point of the tail.

I then sewed a couple of running stitches across that tail to the bottom of the bird.  The tail was then pulled taut to sort of gather it together from top to bottom.  (It's small, so the gathering is minimal.)

Bringing in the belly piece, I then began whipstitching one side of the belly fabric to the body of the bird.

The point of the belly should end just about where the embroidery stitching at the neck began.  (When it didn't, I either cut the fabric if it was too long or stitched up the difference in the body pieces if it was too short.)


I then turned the bird and began to sew the other side of the belly onto the other half of the bird.

When about an inch of open seam remained, I used a chopstick to stuff the dove with wool.  (Any stuffing material one has on hand would do.)

To hide the tie off knot, I pulled the last bit of thread through the tail and knotted it there before cutting.

One down.

Eleven to go.

With all the birds complete, I moved on to the wreath.  Lots of craft stores carry pre-made wreaths or they can be simply made from various materials.  This one was from some kind of willow twigs I collected last year on a walk around our neighborhood.  They were long and supple stems that easily bent without breaking.  They're held together with lace ribbon I had left over from my wedding.

After measuring out thirds and hanging the wreath from three more ribbons (just over a foot long each) that were pulled together and knotted at the top, I stuck twelve evenly spaced tape markers around the circlet as a guide for where to hang the birds.

Each bird then had a bit of embroidery floss sewn just between the wings.  The first was tied onto the wreath hanging below only about an inch or two of floss.  Each successive bird was then hung about an inch below the previous until all twelve fluttered in a spiral as though descending to the earth...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

nature's art caddy

I've been wanting to get Naiya's thick Stockmar crayons and twiggy colored pencils out of their decorative flower pot for a while now.  I was imagining something that would keep them neatly arranged and also allow her to see them all at once.

Today I came across the central branch of last year's Christmas tree stuck in the corner of our garage and decided to take a chunk of it over to Oma and Opa's house (where Opa has much better power tools than we've got) to have Opa drill some holes for this cool art supply caddy.

There isn't much of a how-to here obviously.  Opa just chose a drill bit slightly larger than the diameter of the crayons and pencils and drilled holes about 3/4" deep.  (He used a drill press which makes perfectly vertical holes but one could use a hand-held drill as well I suppose.)  Afterward we sanded the rough edges.  I was going to take off the little stems around the perimeter but, you know, I thought they looked kind of nice.

Sometime I ought to write about the 101 uses for an old Christmas tree.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

forty days after easter

"Salute the last, and everlasting day,

Joy at the uprising of this Sunne, and Sonne..." 

-from "Ascension" by John Donne

chicks meet chicken

The chicks had a bit of a romp in the yard today and got to meet Jak.  Although Jak only weighs seven pounds, she is quite tall and incredibly fluffy.  She was eager to investigate the little ones while Juniper, our other hen, remained in the bushes resting.

Also, the deadline arrived and the names have been chosen.  (drumrollllllllllll.......)

Please welcome Persephone...

Jellybean Puffball.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

watermelon princess

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran
Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they ever find? 
 Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...