Saturday, November 29, 2008

all those greens...

Remember the roots we brought in from the garden a few weeks back and planted in sand? They are going so great - it is very cool to watch. The boys think they can see the fennel growing every day!

The fennel (above) is shooting up nicely, and we should have enough to snip for salads/seasoning soon!

The purple cabbage root we planted is sprouting nice big cabbage leaves.

And the parsley - oh the parsley. It is growing so fast! We have been snipping almost daily to use in stock, soups, salads, and stir fries. And this is from a root! We've been impressed at how much is growing in such a short time from roots we dug up out of our garden only a few weeks ago.

All of our seedlings are doing great - the mustard greens and lettuce mix are the biggest so far and the tomato seedlings are looking good. The boys helped transplant a bunch of the plants into a larger open tray, and have been tracking the plants. 

It has been an interesting project so far and we look forward to reaping the results!

Friday, November 28, 2008

G is four!

Oh, my sweet little boy. G is four! It doesn't seem like it is possible that four years have passed, yet at the same time we are so different now, such a family.

G is such a force - full of so much love and enthusiasm and intense energy. While his brother is exacting and interested in details, assembly, minutiae and facts, G loves rhythm, flow, music, color, texture, scenes, and storyline. It is so interesting to see his unique personality flower as he gets older. Every day he is full of surprises and we love him so much!

After going so long taking care of sick little guys, I finally got sick too. Really sick. The day before Thanksgiving, of course, when we had invited family to a Thanksgiving Day party at our house. Ahem. Needless to say, we had to cancel the Thanksgiving Day/Birthday party. But we of course still had to have a birthday bash for G - but with just us.

I couldn't MOVE - but I hadn't finished all of the party prep nor did I have the cake baked yet, so my husband zipped out and found a bakery that had an extra plain white sheet cake - YAY! He also picked up some balloons and streamers so we could decorate. And some tube icing so we could personalize the blank cake. We already had his gifts. And of course we had tons of love and excitement.

So, while we had a big change of plans and a much (much!) smaller party, we had a lovely time and he had a fun birthday - full of excitement, joy, fun, love, a very proud big brother, and cake! Happy Birthday, sweet boy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

sparkly pinecones.

As G started feeling better he wants to do something! A has been on the couch feeling blech with the cold bug he finally succumbed to, and so it has been just me & G. We decided to do something simple that had a bunch of little steps with breaks in between. It is the most simple craft - but is always fun to do and looks great on a tree or to embellish gift packages.

Last year we picked up a garbage bag full of pine cones at the local tree farm, and I still have a bunch left. So we picked through the bag to select just the right pine cones. G settled on a few of two different types.

We started by painting a base color. This is easiest when the paint is watery - so we mixed acrylic craft paint and water until it was a little runny (2 part acrylic to 1 part water or so - depending on the type of paint you start with) and stirred it in a bowl. G then placed each pine cone in the paint and turned it and brushed over it and coated the whole thing. I held it over the bowl a minute to drip a little excess off, and then we put them on freezer paper to dry. I turned them a few times so that the paint would dry on all sides more evenly.

Next, we put some craft glue in a bowl and G used a paint brush to brush glue on the pine cones. I had bowls of glitter nearby, and as he finished brushing the glue, he then rolled each pine cone in the glitter and put it on a clean sheet of freezer paper to dry.

Once dry, we took a little wire to make a loop at the top and then strung ribbon through it to make a hanger.

We chose a simple red/white color scheme - but you can paint them as many colors as you like - and have a rainbow of glittery pine cones. Super simple and lovely to look at!

If you want to put these outside you might want to coat with a little acrylic varnish.

Monday, November 24, 2008


After a weekend of middle of the night on-call Physician phone calls and Urgent Care, we woke up today to a winter wonderland. Everything is covered in beautiful fluffy thick snow. The boys were so happy - SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW! Just right to rejuvenate and excite on a Monday morning. I think it makes us ALL feel better!

So while we have to stay home for a few days, we get a glorious view out of our windows - it may only be a few inches, but that is enough!

Snow usually jump starts our holiday crafting - it inspires and brightens everything and gets the boys excited. And I love shoveling first thing in the morning - the quiet, the cold air, and coming in to a nice hot cup of coffee and warm snuggly little boys. Ahhh. Snow!

Friday, November 21, 2008

one tough cookie.

After less than a week of being over that last cold, G is sick again. After two more days of inhalers, humidifiers, nebulizers, wheezing, and crying, I think we are about ready to buckle down (even more) for this cold and flu season and ride it out from home!

This little guy has a birthday this week (he's going to be FOUR!), so we want him to be happy and healthy for his big day. He told me not to worry - he is one tough cookie.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

a little of this, a little of that.

We have been busy - writing lists and planning and experimenting - getting our holiday crafting ready to roll. We have been working on little things here and there, and are getting an idea of what we want to work on as we go. Our garden is finally wrapped up for the season, and we will move into our holiday projects just as the deep freeze arrives.

We have started on some things already - I like to make a few of this and that to see how it works and if the boys enjoy it before we go big. So far we have molded tea light holders out of air dry clay, made many clay beads and jewelry shapes, poured beeswax candles, painted some silk, and sewn a few templates. All good.

Here are some of our ideas for this year (this is our ideas...we won't make all of them)-

-stationery sets, note cards, calendars...using our photos
-recipe boxes/cookbook...using my recipes
-potpourri (essential oils and spices)
-painted clay ornaments
-painted clay tea light holders
-painted clay bead napkin rings
-painted pressed clay necklaces
-painted silk scarves
-embroidered fleece throws/lap blankets
-embroidered tea towels
-stationery set holder
-cloth napkins
-journal/notebook covers
-garden bulb box
-garden journals
-chocolate caramel popcorn
-seasoned nuts
-mulled wine kit
-cocoa mix with homemade marshmallows

A few things we have made in the past two years::
Embroidered felt wallets/business card holders/coffee cozies, library bags, fabric bags, zip wallets, purses, scarves, rolled beeswax tapers, poured candles, melt and pour soap, chocolate covered pretzels, peppermint bark, stockings, wood plaques, sachets, hankies, fleece soap covers, coasters...

I'm sure I forgot a few things, but it is a good base to work from. The ideas list gets long, but we always zero in on what sounds best for us right now, streamline the list a LOT, and then take advantage of any rain and snow to cozy up inside and make stuff a bit at a time. The boys have also picked out fun ideas for our own decorating and crafting projects for the holidays...from card making to solstice calendars to bird feeders...sounds like fun!

So, what are you making this year?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

forced winter greenery.

Our indoor gardening experiments continued this weekend with some new projects. We have been re-visiting the book "Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables From Your Home Garden All Year Long." The book talks about forcing winter greenery inside - which is very interesting! The boys like the 'mad-scientist' stuff we always have going on, and I like that we can bring in a bunch of things already in our garden and see what we can continue to grow.

The book suggested certain root vegetables - by planting them in moist sand and placing in a sunny window, you can force the greenery to sprout, and then just snip and eat as it grows! We went to the yard and collected parsley root, cabbage root, fennel root, and celeriac.

We rinsed the roots clean, snipped off any frosted bits and old growth (only left any new shoots) and then planted them in sand. The pots were placed in sunny windows and I know the boys will obsessively water them and keep the sand moist (the fun part!).

Our seedlings are doing great - we plan to transfer those to bigger pots this week. That along with the forced winter greenery pots gives us a nice number of things for our indoor winter garden!

If you haven't read the Four-Season Harvest book and are interested in extending your growing season into the winter, you should check it out. It is a great read.

Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables From Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just breathe.

We have had a pretty quiet week at home. Both boys have had a cold. For A, it is just a cold and moves on out pretty quickly. For G, it means asthma. Pretty much every time he is exposed to a cold virus he has a series of scary asthma attacks (and his cough drags on for ages). We do ok during the day, but the past few nights have been verrrrry rough. Thank goodness for the nebulizer.

Luckily, A is always very happy to stay home more during the week (more time for 'his projects'! yay!), which means we can focus on getting G back to his happy spunky self. That requires lots of snuggling, book reading, fort building, lego constructing, and a few special treats, of course, sprinkled in between lots of glue and watercolors!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Photo of the Day...Seedlings!

The seedlings are growing fast! We installed 2 small under the cabinet lights, and have the plants under cool and warm bulbs when there is not any sun (like the last several days). Many cells were planted with just 1-2 seeds, but the lettuce greens were sown a little thicker and will be ready to go into a bigger pot shortly!

The boys have been carefully misting with water each day, and checking the progress! Looking good.

We read today about sprouting/growing celeriac in sand to get celery shoots, so we will be trying that soon, and also will be starting a tray of wheat grass to use in our smoothies. Hopefully our green thumbs will continue!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

windmill generator - fun science!

After our windmill generator outing last month we found a bunch of good books about wind power and have had some interesting conversations. When we found this science kit to build our own, we knew we had to try it!

This kit is to build a small windmill generator which, when the wind is blowing, will power an LED light attached to the bottom. The boys carefully followed the instructions to assemble the pieces.

When completed, we took it outside. The weather was perfect - cold and very windy. The instructions said it would take 15-25 mph winds to light the LED light (the goal, of course).

When it started whirring in the strong winds the light lit up! Woo hoo - very excited boys!

We weighed the two liter bottle a bit by adding sand in the bottom, and it can sit right outside our window so that we can watch it. I think the boys like it at night the best - the red glows so brightly it illuminates the sand below. Very cool!

Friday, November 07, 2008

candle decorating.

One of the crafts the boys enjoy repeating is decorating our pillar candles for each season. It is simple, but the decorated candles look nice and add to our nature or dinner table!

We have a few sets of the small cookie cutters which we use for wax and clay. We use them a LOT. For our fall candles, the boys picked nice fall colors and cut shapes out of embellishing beeswax - they picked leaves and acorns.

We then simply press the beeswax shapes onto the candles - warm the shapes up a tad bit between your hands before pressing the pieces on and it will stick. You only need a light bond. If your hands don't do the trick, I hold a match to the back of a piece to warm it a little (*quickly* - don't melt it!) before my son presses it on. When the holiday or season has passed, if your candle remains, you can simply remove the wax pieces and decorate for the next season! Decorating plain pillars also makes a nice gift.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

last bits of warmth.

So this is it, I think. The last gasp. From the warm sunny days comes the snow and cold. We are excited about it - the boys ask (often) when it will be here. They want to make snowballs, snow angels, and snowmen, after all. Of course the bigger stuff won't come for a few weeks at least, but even with flurries comes that one of a kind snow smell in the air and lots of excitement. Oh, and warm apple cider (can't forget THAT!).

Not that we are complaining about the nice weather...we did soak it up!

Oh - we are transitioning into a bunch of new interests and a new season for the boys, so have a lot of new books...I'm adding a bunch to the side bar, if you are interested!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

indoor gardening!

With the gorgeous weather and A getting over a bug he caught on Halloween, we have been staying close to home. Lots of garden cleanup work, bread making, bubble blowing, book reading, microbe researching, and craft/giftmaking planning. Oh, and indoor garden planning. The indoor garden has been on our mind for awhile. At first I really wanted a lean-to greenhouse outside, but with HOA restrictions, cost, limited placement options with our tiny space, massive snowdrift possibilities, and me not wanting to permanently affix something big to the side of our house, well, we are bringing it inside. I seed start in the basement each spring and usually grow window herbs through the winter, but we wanted to do a little more this time.

The boys wanted to help with everything from seed selection to technical requirements to planting, so they have been involved in planning. This is going to be pretty basic, but the plan is to start seeds in trays - we are testing two planting mediums so the boys can see which produces the best seedlings. We plan to take advantage of any sunshine during the day, and then move trays into our growlight seedling setup in the basement at night...just until seeds germinate and we start getting some growth.

The boys did the planting today. We setup the two soil mediums, planted all seeds, marked all of the cells with what is planted there, watered and put it in the window to start. We started a graph of what seeds we have, what their germination needs are and water preferences. A wants to expand that to include seed to plant time estimates and harvesting notes. Good ideas!

After rambling on you are probably wondering WHY are we starting seeds inside in November? Well, we preserve and freeze and save foods all summer from our farm visits and garden and work to keep our food local as much as we can. We do sprout a lot in winter, but fresh herbs and greens would be wonderful. Last winter the boys grew a few carrots, radishes and small onions in a window, so why can't we do more?

We are planting a few things for this first round (they will be transplanted into larger pots later)::
-mustard greens
-salad bowl lettuce (cut and come again)
-swiss chard
and by special request we will try
-window box roma tomato

As we go we plan to succession plant what is working, eliminate what isn't, try new things, and see how much we can grow inside in the winter. Should be fun - and the boys are EXCITED to see results!

Monday, November 03, 2008

photo of the day.

Once you choose hope, anything's possible.
~Christopher Reeve

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I love those few warmer days after the first decent cold snap each year. The sun comes back out, illuminating all of the glorious fall color remaining, and we run outside, looking behind us, as though we are on borrowed time. It doesn't usually last long, but it is enough.

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.
-- Nathaniel Hawthorne

November is here!