Wednesday, January 27, 2010

corner view:: favorite hangout

This week the Corner View is 'favorite hangout'.

While we like getting out to one of our favorite cafes (above) for some good coffee, a game of chess, or some lunch, our favorite place is always...HOME.

Home is where we play, read, cozy up and watch the winter go by. Home is our kitchen - making yogurt, sour cream, cheese, butter. Baking bread or cookies, slow cooking dinner so the house is filled with wonderful smells all day. Home is where we do science experiments, snuggle our cat (who must be wherever we are) or play with the rabbit.

Home is where we paint, draw, sew, make, plan, and grow. Yes, home is our favorite hangout of all.

Where is your favorite hangout?

>>Be sure to visit Jane at Spain Daily for more favorite hangouts around the globe!

Monday, January 25, 2010

dream time.

It is dark, cold and gray outside - but I've been dreaming. Dreaming about the garden. This time of year is for planning and plotting and reading and dreaming.

I sit with notebooks, seed catalogs, books and magazines. I peruse with a morning cup of tea in hand, at night when everyone is in bed (but me), or whenever I have a few minutes.

I catalog the seeds I still have. Look at notes of what worked/didn't work last year. Plan how to expand growing area in our tiny full yard. Sketch trellises, tripods, containers, vertical lines, and raised beds.

I make lists of what seeds to buy. Think about seed starting calendars and timelines - about cold frames, water barrels, rain gardens and herbs. I read about bed rotations and companion planting.

And while it is dark, gray and cold outside, I envision the lush green, the vines, the soil. I remember the hot summer nights watering, picking and weeding. I remember the bees, the praying mantises, the birds.

I wonder how I can fit in more flowers, more herbs, more color, more fragrance, and still grow more food (in so little space!). I remember little hands helping me plant, dig, water, harvest.

I think about the baskets of juicy tomatoes we had last summer. Colanders full of herbs, vegetables and fruit. I want to try new varieties, new flavors, new textures, new colors.

So while it may be a dark, gray and cold mid-winters day, there is a bit of my summer garden right here in my head.

What are you doing different this year in your garden? Expanding? Trying new things? What is inspiring you right now?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

hit the slopes.

A & G have been wanting to snowboard for a while now. They wanted a lesson of some sort - someone to show them the basics - but without the crowd or chaos of a 'class'. Over the holidays we talked about setting up a private lesson, and today was the day! We couldn't have gotten better weather - sunny, no wind, in the low 20's. It felt even warm out there!

Brice decided to take a vacation day and join in the lesson too (woo hoo!). They learned some of the basics - and then they were off! While all three of them did really well, I must say that one little 5 year old whizzed around like he'd been snowboarding forever. Must be from all the yoga ball circus tricks he does at home - great balance!

The hour flew - they had so much fun. The instructor was really nice and patient - I think he dragged A up the hill a dozen times. Who knew that the toughest thing was going to be the (wobbly freaky crazy fast) tow line up the hill? After the boys saw about 10 different people wipe out trying to hold on, they didn't feel so bad. ;)

Me and my bum spine had to watch from the sidelines - but I didn't mind - I had a wonderful time taking photos, soaking up some sunshine, breathing winter air, and watching. I loved seeing them experience this new thing - their intensity, joy, frustration, excitement - MUCH!

They had such an awesome day - and can't wait to go back!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Someone painted pictures on my
Windowpane last night --
Willow trees with trailing boughs
And flowers, frosty white,

And lovely crystal butterflies;
But when the morning sun
Touched them with its golden beams,
They vanished one by one."

- Helen Bayley Davis

We have been waking up to this the past few mornings.

I walk outside in wonder each morning, camera in hand, no shoes no coat, watching the sun hit the crystals. As the wind blows the sky fills with a thick sparkling fog.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

settling into winter.

Ah, the home time of winter. Quiet yet busy days, soaking up the sun when it shows for even a brief moment, and puttering with our projects - building, writing, crafting, knitting, baking, making.

Writing lists (what is it with little boys and lists?), making comics and stories. Trains, molecule models, growing salt crystals, making verdigris coins. LEGO, microgreen growing, sprouting, chess games, saving and counting coins, piles of books to read. Knock-knock jokes. LOTS of knock-knock jokes.

Painting, drawing and performing. Dancing, science show watching, piano playing. Monopoly, tinker toys, maps, Ireland, Yellowstone, surface tension, fresh bread. Cleaning, organizing, purging, re-using. Adding, subtracting and multiplying using silly voices.

Butter making, tool using, house fixing and tinkering, cheese making, seed catalog browsing, garden planning, Nerf games, angora hand spinning. Oh, the list goes on and on and on. And I love every minute of it. Happy days with my boys. Bon hiver.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

it's all about water.

Last weekend it was c-c-c-cold outside, so we took a day trip and visited our favorite science museum in Milwaukee!

We walked on water,

Under water,

Through water,

Dipped our arms in water,

And measured how much water our bodies contained.

We operated remote control under water cameras. We saw ships and boats, water recycling and sanitation, and water gardens. We created art in water bubbles. We looked at aquariums, the Great Lakes, and saw how sound affects water. While there were so many other things to look at - the day was definitely about water!

It is warming up - today will be 25º, and by Thursday a balmy 34º is expected. So we will head outside to enjoy this heat wave while it lasts. Have a great week!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

winter garden.

Just because it is -5º outside doesn't mean we can't have a garden. We grow as many greens as we can inside each winter. It is super easy - and we get fresh goodness even with feet of snow on the ground.

Right now we have a bunch of things going. We have an easy sprout growing a mix for topping sandwiches, eggs, etc.

We have a triple tier sprouter that we use to sprout bigger things - peas, lentils, mung, etc. This week I have a few trays of red lentils sprouting to the microgreens stage for salads.

We also have a light system setup over a bookshelf in our 'craft room' (spare bedroom). This is simply a few trays under two shop lights - with one warm and one cool bulb per fixture we get a good range of light to grow microgreens and lettuce greens. The room gets lots of natural light in the winter too. Right now we have a tray of pea shoots, one of mixed microgreens (broccoli, radish, arugula, beet, cress, mustard), and one of mixed greens we are growing for cut and come again salads. Microgreens are greens and vegetables grown only for the first week or so and cut while small. They are packed with nutrients and surprisingly have a ton of flavor. A 7 day old radish green packs quite the punch of full radish flavor.

And of course we always have a few things of wheatgrass growing. The green perks our sprits up in the it is good for juicing, and our rabbit LOVES getting special fresh grass treats!

We have some time before we start seeds for the spring and summer garden, but it is nice to have trays always going so that we can cut and eat fresh, right from home. And it just feels good when it is so cold and white outside!

Friday, January 08, 2010


We love finding fun kits. We visit museum stores often, and always find some interesting robot, craft, kit or puzzle to make. One museum store stocking stuffer this year was a kaleidoscope kit. We waited for the perfect day to make them - and during our big snowstorm yesterday we felt the time was right!

The boys decorated tubes, taped and inserted triangular mirrors, added cups and secured their scopes.

They then filled them with some of the items from the kits...crystals, rocks, flower petals, marbles.

They were really cool to look through - the bright white snow outside was a great backdrop to hold up to the window and see their creations.

After a bit, the boys thought about what we might have around the house that would make even MORE colorful/beautiful/interesting patterns. Oh, we have a lot of things to try - coins, acorn tops, geode pieces, playmobil parts - you name it, they tried it! In the end, of course, they found that we have plenty of the perfect items to make hyper-colorful designs...

...LEGO! They filled their scopes with the little translucent colorful crystals, tips, bits and circles. Perfect!

We of course then had to find out more about kaleidoscopes, mirrors, fractals...all good stuff for a snowy winter day.

Note: We used a kit, but the construction was pretty simple and you could easily make one with materials at home.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

dodecahedron and toothpicks.

Our days have been co-co-cold and we have been spending more time inside. While we do love snowball fights and fort building, G has a hard time breathing in the frigid temps with the asthma. There is plenty to do inside, even if it is below zero out.

A few weeks back we saw a fun idea at Child's Play (yet another one of my favorite blogging families going to live in an RV!)...gumdrop geometry. The boys have built 2D and 3D shapes - as well as all kinds of structures - lots of fun!

It is interesting - G wants to create the shapes from a list we found for ideas, and check them off one by one as he builds them. He also enjoys combining colors and patterns.

A, on the other hand, wants to connect all of the shapes into ships, robots, buildings, and bridges...

...and he loves repeatedly saying words like dodecahedron (try saying that one 5 times) and tetrahedron.

As they like to say, "two boys, two worlds." ;)