November 30, 2011

Yarn along....and our first snow!

I'm still working on the circle blanket...inspired by this.We read a book every morning together (if you read my previous post...40 books in 40 days, but you could do a countdown just for December). I'm reading Alexander McCall Smith's Corduroy Mansions, which is okay, but I really love his No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. I've read all of those, which take place in Botswana, and look forward to his next one, the 13th in this series, which is due out April 2012.

What are you reading and working on (a crochet or knit project with yarn)? Follow the yarn along here with Ginny.

Last night, we got our first real was so pretty, but sadly has melted this morning. Hannah and Olivia put on their snowpants and went outside to play, jumped on the trampoline (there's still a small pile of snow there, actually), slid down the snow-covered slide, it was really wet. Olivia made snowballs and threw them at our house.
(I wish I'd taken some pictures)

November 28, 2011

40 books in 40 days

Today begins the Nativity fast for us...40 days from now is December 25th on the old calendar (which looks like January 7th on the new calendar, but it's still 2011 in our church calendar).

Every morning from now til then, we'll unwrap and read a book together. I added more books to our collection (thanks to our local library, we'll read those ones first). One of my favorites is Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman. Have you read that one? It's about a little mouse who lives in a house and finds a nice bed (in the manger they have set up). Mortimer takes the baby out of the manger and sleeps there...when he hears the family reading the story of Jesus, how He didn't have a place to sleep, he decided it was better for the baby Jesus to sleep there and he would find another bed...and that's when he finds the gingerbread house!

* * *
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving...started off the day by going to church to give thanks to God and spent the afternoon with our family, most of them live here in Ohio, my sister and her husband came from Canada and my aunt from Vermont, her son and a friend. Then, we had more guests (Anthony, Joanna and Ephraim) stay the night after they left...on the way home to New York, they'd spent Thanksgiving with their grandmother in Indiana.

Hannah got 2 ukulele from my aunt and one from Anthony (both of them are awesome guitar players). She can play the chords for "How much is that doggie in the window?" "Somewhere over the rainbow" and "Down by the bay, where the watermelons grow." Olivia is also learning how to play, now. Here she is playing the C chord. So, now I'm looking for a good ukulele lesson book. Any suggestions?

November 23, 2011

Yarn along...illuminated glasses & more circles!

How do you like these glasses? They're old jars (oh, have I told you how much we love the Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce from Trader Joe's?), I washed them and crocheted a they are illuminated with tealights.

I've been crocheting more circles...

Follow Ginny on her lovely blog (lately we've been picking carrots out of our garden, too, that's really all that's left) & see what others are making at the yarn along here.

November 21, 2011

Our first backyard eggs!!!

Saturday my husband found 3 eggs in the straw nesting area...I'm pretty sure it was Nutmeg the Rhode Island Red because she's a little bigger and the eggs were brown. Clementine is the Ameraucana and will lay greenish-blue eggs. Later, Hannah went out and discovered another egg. This morning, Olivia took our dog, Lusy, outside and found another egg! We ate them this morning over-easy with toast and butter. Mmmm.

November 18, 2011

Countdown to Nativity

I know, it's not even Thanksgiving, but I am preparing for Christmas, too. I'm sure most of you are, by either making gifts or cards, or if you're buying gifts you have to budget, it's not best to buy at the last minute.I have been gathering the books in our house that have to do with the Nativity of Christ, along with some snowy ones that are particularly fun, even a couple with Santa (although we don't do Santa, just St. Nicholas) only if the story is really funny (like Ian Falconer's Olivia Helps with Christmas and the wordy & poetic Eloise at Christmastime) or there is a good message. We'll open one each day and read it together in the morning. Inspired by Babyccino.My favorites are:
  • The Story of the Nativity of Christ by Vesna Nikchevich is a longer story that used very beautiful iconic drawings to illustrate the story. One of my very favorites! Good for my children (ages 8 and 10).
  • Little Porcupine's Christmas by Joseph Slate, a very sweet story about animals celebrating the birth of Christ by putting on a play called "Baby in the Manger" and the porcupine who feels left out, until they decide they need a star (he climbs to the top of the tree and rolls up like a ball).
  • The Best Christmas Present Ever by Richard Scarry is wonderful, for his illustrations and story, of children getting presents, and then seeing Huckle's new baby sister (THAT is the best present)!
  • Christmas Joy compiled by Skip Skwarek, which is full of recipes, songs, poems and stories with beautiful illustrations.
  • Niko Chocheli's Prepare O Bethlehem because all the Orthodox church hymns are used throughout the book, the drawings are a bit dark and artistic, so a younger child may think they are a bit scary.
  • Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto reminds me of our summer trip to New Mexico and Arizona, cute story and a cultural experience...if you've never made masa for tamales, maybe after the feast you could plan a day to try to make them!
  • Leo Tolstoy's Philipok is illustrated by Gennady Spirin is not a Christmas theme book, but a book about a little boy who walks through the snow to school. Gorgeous drawings of the town, church and people!!!
  • I included a Christmas carol book that has several songs like "Silent Night" and "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing," some traditional songs that talk about the birth of Christ. We love to sing together!

The best way to use Kool-Aid... playdough. It's not good for you to drink, in my opinion.
Why do I like it? It doesn't require cream of tartar (which can be expensive). It's a pretty color. It has a great (yet artificial) smell.'s the recipe:

*1 cup flour
*1/2 cup salt
*3 tablespoons oil
*1 package of Kool-Aid (any flavor)
*1 cup boiling water

Mix well and knead. Store in an air tight container and it will last for weeks!!!

November 16, 2011

A circle blanket...

It is early morning...our new kitten (today it has been 2 weeks since we brought her home) slept at my feet atop our comforter last night. It's raining outside. I just took these photos:
I'm crocheting a circle blanket...and reading Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads book...I'm learning so much about "proofing" (that you can let your bread rise for 1 to 12 hours) and that your dough should be tacky or sticky. I confess when I make a yeast bread, I want to knead it and keep adding flour until it doesn't stick to my hands. Uh oh.
And I've been making lots of cards. Visit my etsy shop to see more of them!

November 14, 2011

online Scrabble

I played a game of online Scrabble for the first time ever this past week...with my mom and sister in Canada. AND I won. Beginner's luck? I got the Z and J. They're worth a lot of points. I love playing Scrabble (well, any word game...have any of you played Jotto?) in real life, too. This past Friday night, I went to one of the art studios and set up a table with other artists...I sold my papier mache birds and cards. The one with glasses had to have a book. My mom ended up buying this one from me.

Please keep my dad (Paul) in your prayers, he has had a difficult week, voice therapy 3x a week and medication pattern evident, so no one knows how to find the perfect balance.
* I love that he always smiles, even though he doesn't feel good.

November 9, 2011


I felt like I'm being called to the live a simple life. Nowadays, the government has become so big and controlling, I want more freedom. I get it by going into our little backyard, which we were lucky to be able to get a 6 foot privacy fence around in the summer of 2010...
  • The 2 chickens are doing well...they love foraging around our compost and what's left in the garden (not much). Not laying eggs, yet, we're thinking they probably won't lay until spring.
  • At 8 o'clock yesterday morning I walked down the street with Olivia to vote. I tried to explain the issues that I was voting for and why they are important. My sister, Susanna, wrote on her blog about politics, too. We're both health-conscious, true conservatives who want freedom!
  • Our girls can take their homeschooling lesson outside...yesterday was a sunny and warm day...we were barefoot almost all day.
  • I worked outside on my papier mache birds, a warm breeze blowing my bits of newspaper all over the deck...
  • Lusy (our dog) and Velvet (our kitten...we got from an Amish family) are making friends. No fights, but Velvet hissed at Lusy quite a bit at first...they seem to keep out of each others way...yesterday they sniffed each other nose to nose a few times!
  • I watched a squirrel perched atop our fence, debating whether or not he wanted to come in our yard...lots of sparrows.
  • The leaves on our red oak seedlings that we got at the library a few years ago have turned a beautiful deep red.
  • I thought of my friend Charlotte and baked a loaf of bread with rosemary that I picked from our backyard.
  • I hung out clothes out on the line to dry...and I took some black and white pictures. Nostalgia.
  • Hannah had piano lessons and I helped Olivia do flips off the swing. Then both the girls had Irish dance class in the evening...

November 7, 2011

Little trumpet player?

3 years ago both Hannah and Olivia started piano lessons...after a month, we decided together that just Hannah would continue. Since then, I've wished that Olivia would want to resume, but she doesn't want to...I'm not going to push her. BUT she's expressed interest in playing the ukulele...and the trumpet. Rob's dad gave her one of his trumpets and she's getting better at it...
Yesterday, we spent a few hours with my parents, raking leaves, jumping in them, hiding in them...and ended up staying for dinner. I wish I'd brought my camera. For those of you who have been following the story of my dad and his battle living with Parkinson's disease, he's been doing better lately. He went for a bike ride alone on Saturday, 2 miles...and was fine, until he came home, fell in the driveway, my mom said that the two next door neighbors rushed over to help him out...he gashed his forehead right by his eyebrow and really should probably get 5 stitches, but I'm sure he will heal, if there's a scar, it's one to be proud of... I admire him for riding his bicycle so much! I love to ride my bike, too.

November 2, 2011

We've got lots of green tomatoes...

Since we had a frost last week, we thought we'd better pick all the tomatoes, red as well as green ones, so we can eat them before a really hard frost ruins them. They are ripening up on our kitchen counter and windowsills. I think this recipe will be good:
(image and recipe from here)
Doesn't this Roasted Tomato Soup sound good?

  • 6 cups (3 pints) cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  1. Heat the oven to 400°. On a baking sheet, combine the cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients to coat evenly and spread them in a single layer. Roast the tomatoes until they are shriveled with brown spots, about 35 to 45 minutes.

  2. In a large pot, heat the butter and the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the broth, the thyme, and the roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on the baking sheet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.

  3. Using a food processor or blender, puree the soup until it's smooth. Return it to the pot and stir in the cream. Without letting the soup boil, warm it over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Add salt and pepper, if necessary.

  4. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with Grilled-Cheese Croutons . Makes about 10 cups.

And on Wednesday, Rob bought me this used bamboo bird cage for $'s a great house for all the papier mache birds I've been making! I've got 2 upcoming local events where I'll be selling them. I would like to try to make some smaller bird houses... On the sign I made I wrote "always open." I love the door open, it's a beautiful symbol of freedom.