Monday, March 30, 2009

here we go again...

We had a weekend full of snow, candlelight, board games, and...back pain.

My back went out again. Why is it that the most excruciatingly painful injuries happen over weekends when all offices are closed? I am not able to move much - can't stand, sit, lie down, ya know, get dressed. I'm not one for emergency room visits for pain meds (allergies) so, I'm crossing my fingers for a miracle-working acupuncture/acupressure massage appointment this morning (if they understand my PLEEEEEEEEASE can you see me this morning and not tell me they have a slot, say, next Wednesday) and throughout the week. I am hoping to get mobile quickly enough to put my little boys worries to rest. Until then...I think I'll be posting some favorite photos of the week and will return to longer posts when I can sit again! :)

Hope you all had a nice weekend!

Friday, March 27, 2009


Don't forget to join us tomorrow for Earth Hour - Saturday March 28 at 8:30PM local time.

The boys love any excuse to decorate and embellish beeswax candles. So, today we cut, carved, decorated and embellished candles to light our hour (or more) tomorrow night.

We are ready!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

mud season.

"The world is mud-luscious...and puddle-wonderful."
~E.E. Cummings

The strong winds and cold pouring rains of March are in full force - we venture out for some puddle and mud stomping and then retreat back into our warm cozy home, entertaining ourselves with books, crafting, baking, garden projects, storytelling, games, dancing and watching the rain on the windowpanes.

Mud season has arrived!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

weekend adventures.

We went on an adventure yesterday, to a (not too) far away place that the boys had never been before. We needed to add to our camping supplies for the summer, and knew the boys would find the 165,000 square feet of Cabela's pretty interesting.

The boys had a fun day strolling through the aquarium and checking out tents, boats, fishing poles, ATVs, camping supplies and so much more. I think the two most exciting things included a) both boys getting their own new fishing poles, and b) both boys getting turns in the archery range where they were able to use a bow. They did not want to leave, and A definitely wants to take an archery class this summer.

Of course the first thing they wanted to do today was practice casting with their fishing rods. They both had a quick 'how to' with us, and then got started. They spent a lot of time outside today casting over and over and over - they even put out some markers so they had a spot to aim for. Fun!

I only got bonked in the head with a practice weight once (and that was because I thought I should rake the beds while the boys were casting). Not bad!!!  ;)

Friday, March 20, 2009

happy spring!

Spring is here! While it doesn't feel like spring (it is snowing), we celebrated the return of the light and the sun. After weeks of the plague, uh, I mean the cold virus ravaging our household, today was the first day where all four of us finally felt a bit better.

G's first order of business was to make our sun/flower spring equinox cookies. While the dough was chilling we started some egg coloring experiments.

We put a few eggs in with vinegar, water and food coloring.

We juiced some fresh wheatgrass from the trays of it we grew just for today. We put a few eggs in plastic wrap with some of the green juice and smushed grass to see if it would color.

We wrapped a few eggs in tissue paper, dipped them in a vinegar/water mix, and tied those into plastic wrap to see if the tissue paper would impart color.

We ended up with some interesting results - and had fun doing it. We also read books, looked at charts that show the path of our earth and the sun at this vernal equinox, decorated paper mâché eggs, started our spring nature table, watered and cared for our plants, started even more new seeds to bring life to our garden, started cloth rabbits, breathed fresh air and danced. After such a rough week with asthma-boy in addition to three of us getting ear infections with this nasty bug, it was such a relief to feel better, celebrate Ostara, think about the warmth and light that is coming, and to be silly and have fun with each other.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

wearing of the green.

Well, while we did not wear green today, we are surrounded by green. Spring is just around the corner and we have living green things on counters, windowsills, tables and racks.

The windowbox tomatoes we started in January are getting bigger.

Mung bean sprouts are just about ready - I know what I'll be having for lunch tomorrow.

Sunflower sprouts are getting going (tasty treat) and the arugula is almost ready to snip for a salad.

And in the basement, the tiniest seedlings are peeking their heads up - growing growing growing! I love starting seeds. It does take a little attention over a few months, but it is so worth it.

For those of you who are starting seeds for the first time this year - here are a few good resources to keep you moving along! :)

>>Book: Gardening from Seed: The Keys to Success with Flowers and Vegetables - Martha Stewart. Good photos showing you the actual seed starting process and supplies.

>> Blog: Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op:: Easy & Inexpensive Seed Starting System.

>>Podcast: Garden Girl TV:: Indoor Gardening #1 | #2 | #3

After a few days of warmth and sun we have cooler (and wetter) weather on its way. With this cold bug we are actually looking forward to some gray wet days so that we can cozy up inside and recover completely. So even as the real spring arrives (sun and 70º does not feel like spring to us - cool and WET does!), we have plenty of green inside, and weeks of new seedlings to start as we go!

Monday, March 16, 2009

spring is coming.

Even though we all have been down with a wicked cold, with weather in the 50's and 60's over the past few days we had to get out for a walk or two!

We needed to keep the boys moving slowly, since they are still coughing a lot (asthma-boy in particular) when they, we made up a game so that we would all walk more slowly. We always have fun making up games together - the boys love it - and they also love determining the points system and keeping exact tallies. ;) The game was to identify as many plant or animal species as we could, and point out buds. That is an easy game for us in the warm months when everything is easily identifiable with colorful flowers or leaves, but in the dull brown of March, it is more of a challenge!

It is a nice game to play, as most walks may seem to only reveal the bare branches or dead flowers of last summer - by slowing down and looking closer we saw how much is indeed alive, growing in the sun, getting ready to bloom. We saw many buds and many birds. Yes, spring is almost here!

Friday, March 13, 2009

cough, cough.

All quiet here with two sick boys. A is on day 5, G (asthma guy) just started last night. So today looks like this...

After a night of this...

But I made some of these,

and have all of this,

so we can be comfortable at home, doing some (early) crafts, moving slowly, trying to keep the coughs under control. I'm off to make some warm water with honey to ease little sore throats and snuggle in for a movie.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

and the winner is...

The random number generator picked a winner - comment # 9 - which is Brianna at serendipity.

Brianna - you can email me your snail mail address at and I'll mail out your goodies!

Thanks to all for playing! I love all the comments, and am very happy to have a lot of new blogs to visit! :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Oh, March is quite the month for weather here in Wisconsin. This week we have gone from 55º and sunny, to several inches of rain and thunderstorms and flooding, back to snow/sleet/ice and thundersnow, lots of fog, and today more rain, fog and crazy wind - and tomorrow below zero windchills. Sooooo, we have been staying close to home, playing with some new things A received for his birthday, and starting some new projects.

Between new science kits (very cool microscope, volcano kit & more...), starting our seeds, rollerblading and scootering around the house, reading books (A discovered the world of mushrooms), and some looking forward to spring craftiness, we have been happily busy.

The boys have been wanting to make eggshell planters -  you take an eggshell (clean), paint it and draw on a face, fill it with some sand and soil, and top it with soaked wheat berries. Cover with plastic wrap until shoots are coming up (mist with water regularly)...then remove the wrap and just keep them moist.

Once it grows the wheat grass looks like hair on the eggshell 'head'! We made several heads and started several trays, hoping the wheat grass will be tall and green just in time for the first day of spring. Fun!

We have more fun projects coming up as we anticipate the spring equinox, and make goodies for our spring nature table. Can't wait - I always love the creative busyness that comes with the change of seasons and after a long winter, anticipation is a good thing!

Thanks for all the great comments - if you haven't yet, don't forget to leave a comment on this post to enter yourself in the notebook cover (and a surprise) give away ... deadline is tomorrow/Wednesday at 5PM CST, and I'll post the winner later in the evening!

Monday, March 09, 2009


A turned six yesterday. Wow! Six years. SIX years old! Each year seems like such a jump in development when they are little, but from 5 to 6 they change so much not only on the outside, but inside as well.

It is amazing to see what he is interested in and what he thinks about, how he interacts with the world, and how much love, thought, enthusiasm, intensity and emotion he brings to each and every thing he does. He is an amazing person and I have loved the six years we have been together as a family so far, and look forward to a lifetime more.

Happy Birthday sweet boy!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

garden notebook cover give away.

I have always thought of noting anniversaries, dates, memorable post numbers and all of that with a give away of some sort. But somehow those dates blow past each and every time, and I realize - oh! Another year! Oh! 250, 500 (or 550) posts...weeks late. So I decided to do a give away just because. Just because is a good reason! I also like to see who is out there - while I love comments from those who are familiar, I also enjoy new comments too, and this is a nice excuse to say 'HI'! So old friends or lurkers - leave a comment!

I pulled out the sewing machine again last week and made a few gardening notebook covers. I like having a nice cover for my notebook obsession...they are great for unlined sketchbooks, lined journals or notebooks. They just look nice, keep things together, and when a notebook is full, you can pop in a new one. This one holds a standard 8.5 x 11 size notebook.

I'm not a professional seamstress, so you will have to forgive me my tiny imperfections, but as it is meant to go with you in the garden (or the cafe) as you write, draw, scribble and dream, it will pick up the earth along the way and develop a character all its own. I will also be adding a surprise to the give away box in addition to the garden notebook cover!

To enter the drawing, comment on this post. I'll do a random drawing this Wednesday, March 11, so be sure to comment by 5PM CST on the 11th!

added 3/11/09 : 8:30 PM

The random number generator picked a winner - comment # 9 - which is Brianna at serendipity.

Brianna - you can email me your snail mail address at and I'll mail out your goodies!

Thanks to all for playing! I love all the comments, and am happy to have a lot of new blogs to visit! :)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

easy peasy science.

A likes science. He likes the big long projects that we do over hours or days or weeks...but he also LOVES the quick and easy experiments. Yesterday he said he was in the mood for some experimentin'. So, we pulled out a few supplies that are always at hand and off we went!

Supplies:: ice cubes & water in a glass, salt (kosher or iodized is fine), thread

Start off with several ice cubes in a glass of cold water. Fill up enough so the ice is easy for small hands to reach. (You can do it with just ice in a bowl - my boys saw it this way on a science show, so wanted the full glass with cubes and water).

Cut a foot or so of thread from your spool and lay the string over the ice cube.

Sprinkle some salt right onto the thread and ice cube.

Wait a minute (be patient!). Lift the string!

Of course with my boys the next step is empty out the glass and REPEAT (several times)!

What's happening with the thread then? "In the places where the salt is, the icecube is forcibly melted and also those places get very very cold. In the other places where salt didn't land, you now have melted water sitting on a much colder icecube. This causes those parts to quickly refreeze. This sticks the thread to the icecube, and you can pick it up!"
To find out more of the why's and how's of this super easy experiment, go here>>

I finally got back to my sewing machine (gosh, it has been a long time) and made a few things - so I think I'll be having a blog giveaway...more on that soon!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

seed planning.

This weekend we took some time to finish our seed prep and sort, organize, chart, plot, and plan. We are at our first seed starting week, and have all the lights and warming mats ready to go too. Woo hoo!

I like to figure it all out in advance with all the staggered start dates and transplant dates listed so that when we are busy and out more later in the spring it is all done already and I just have to follow my chart. Being sorted also allows the boys to participate a lot more during the whole process...they can find the current batch, count out seeds, and plant them in addition to helping with the lighting and watering throughout.

For the seeds, I like to use a photo box. I put the seeds in the box, sorted by seed starting date, earliest in front, direct sow later in back. I group them by the start date relative to last frost'ish. Last frost is marked 0 week. So before that is -1 to -11, etc., and after that is +1, etc. I also mark the cards with plant date in relation to last frost. I print out a calendar and mark weeks pre and post frost on it and stick it to the wall next to my seed trays. Once the seeds are all organized in my box I keep them in a cool place and we just have to grab the next batch at the right time, and start another tray.

We also finished up the grid layouts. For the community garden it is simple because it is a square - I can calculate how many plants can fit per square foot easily, based on how far apart they need to be and how much space I marked on our plot grid. Sooo I know how many seedlings to start. With planting in the yard, I guess. I plant in wavy curvy beds along the house near other plantings with no clear measurements and so just estimate where and how many. It works. If you know your space, grid and plan away, but don't be afraid to make a guess and start a bunch of seeds and stick 'em in when they are ready. If you have extra, spread the love. My neighbors are always thrilled if I have a few extra tomato or pepper seedlings in May! And just about anything can grow in a pot too, so if you run out of space in the bed, try putting a few in pots and then compare how they do.

This year I feel the need to be more organized than usual, since we will have the three plots - home yard, family community garden plot, and kids community garden plot.  My husband helped me make a cool spreadsheet for what we are growing where, how many, and with all the dates. It should help me keep track of everything, and manage it somewhat as we go. I'm going to make a master blank version and post it later if anyone is interested. 

I also have found some good online tools for calculating and planning dates - here are *just* a few::

You Grow Girl’s Lazy Gardener’s Seed Starting Chart

Spring Planting Calendar

Farmer's Almanac Planting Timetable

While it is still cold outside, starting seeds really makes you feel like spring is indeed on the way and will be here in no time. Well, maybe not no time (I do live in Wisconsin after all), but I'm looking on the bright side! :)

Monday, March 02, 2009


We picked up a mushroom tabletop grow bag at the Garden Expo a few weeks back, and have been excitedly misting and watching them grow. 

We started out with the base bag and cut the holes into it, as instructed. A wasn't so sure about this...

We waited several days, misting and checking, and one morning we came down and *poof!*, there were tiny mushrooms growing out the holes!

From there, they exploded and grew so fast - A had to check every few hours and measure and spray.

When the caps were 4 inches across, we harvested! Our first harvest was almost a pound of Grey Dove Oyster Mushrooms.

We made a big pot of creamy oyster mushroom soup (YUM), and saved a few to make a creamy pasta sauce. The boys didn't want to EAT "the fungus" yet, but loved growing and harvesting, and are eagerly anticipating the growth of the second batch on our bag (it says we will continue to harvest for about 90 days). We have a few books on mushrooms coming that A requested, so maybe by the next harvest he'll venture a taste...probably not, but my husband and I are perfectly happy eating all the mushrooms. ;)