August 31, 2012

Our self-portraits

A gentle way to start off the school year...with a mirror and some art supplies.  The previous post was meant as inspiration, so that YOU or your children may want to make self-portraits. I think it's a really neat way to document your growth (artistically), if you do one each year!
Now you've seen the self-portraits that Olivia and Hannah drew, from 2009, 2010, 2011 and the one in the lower right is from August 2012...and finally, a few that I did:
♥  And if you do self-portraits, please add a link in the comments so that we can see yours!

P.S. Don't forget to look out in the sky tonight....a full moon, that many call a "blue moon," because it's the 2nd full moon in August!

August 29, 2012

A self-portrait

Norman Rockwell, 1960 (he took a photo and then painted and changed things to make it the way he wanted)
Vincent Van Gogh, 1889 (self-portrait with palette in hand)

Frida Kahlo, 1926 (she painted many self-portraits)

Every year we draw self-portraits at the beginning of the school year.  It's so much fun to see how you have progressed as an artist and to see what you notice or choose to add to the portrait to express your unique personality or style or emotion.  Do you or your children enjoy drawing themselves?  What traditions do you have for the start of each school year?
Mary Cassatt, 1880 (I ♥ that you can see the canvas she is working on IN the painting)

August 27, 2012

The Ohio River

There was a Cincinnati Red's baseball game going on...and they shot off fireworks as we went past!!!
 Captain John, my brother in law, at the helm.
Cincinnati is right on the Ohio River.  An afternoon with my sister, her husband and 3 girls...on the boat!  Hannah and Olivia got to go tubing for the first time.  They loved it, kept signaling to go faster (see Olivia's thumbs up)!

August 22, 2012

Back to school....homeschool!

A few of our favorite books....Olivia and I have been enjoying the McGuffey Readers that I read when I was a child.  She likes the sweet little pictures and the stories.  Some of the language is quite old-fashioned and I have to explain what is meant.
She is now in 4th grade and still loves:
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Curious George 
  • Dick and Jane
  • The Velveteen Rabbit
  • The Littles
  • Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie & Farmer Boy
  • Geronimo Stilton is one of her new favorites
  • MadLibs (we make up our own, too, it's an excellent and fun English lesson)
  • Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer 
I was inspired by Amy's blog photos.

Hannah just finished reading The Secret Garden last night.  It's one of the books she is to read as a 6th grader.  She is an avid reader, got through it in 2 days.  When you love a book, you just can't put it down.  She has been doing 50 sit-ups a day (I tried to do it, too, but gave up, sadly), part of a requirement to get a brown belt in karate and studying the precepts of karate for the test which is Saturday.
  • She also put Farmer Boy in her stack of favorite books 
  • Charlotte's Web
  • The Daring Book for Girls
  • Number the Stars and The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe
  • Hunger Games

August 20, 2012

♥ the sad place...

To me, the sad place, only exists because of the opposite...the joyful, happy times that we can compare it to.
Hannah and Olivia with their great grandparents in December 2004.  Their great grandpa was a jolly man, always smiling, loved to have the girls on his lap, or snuggle with him when he was bed-ridden.  He passed away in March 2007, when he was 81.  
Yesterday, we went to the cemetery to visit Rob's grandfather's grave.  It was a beautiful sunny day, the breeze making it cool.  We picked purple, pink, white and yellow wildflowers to put in the vase on his grave.  We laid out a blanket and gathered dandelion greens, grass and pinecones.  Rob got out his mandolin and played for about a half hour.  I gave grandma some cherry pie I made that morning.  Then, we talked...
Rob's grandma is 82 and living in a nursing home.  She has a picture of herself when she was young and grandpa on the shelf above her bed. I think the nursing home is a sad place, people lose their freedom, they depend on others, but sometimes we need that extra care and cannot do things ourselves any longer. 
My father will be 62 next month.  His father came to visit last month, he is 89 right now.  He seems to be in better health that his son.  We all went out for pizza together, they day after my birthday celebration together.  Dad's life is difficult because of  Parksinson's disease...he has lived such an active life, I remember swimming with him in Lake Dunmore in Vermont, him chopping wood, riding bikes with him to get doughnuts on a Saturday morning, lifting my daughter Hannah up to the ceiling and pretending she was on a roller coaster...

And now, he is forced by this disease to be much less active.  Stiff.  Uncomfortable.  Clumsy.  It's like a bad dream I've had when I'm laying in bed and can look with my eyes around, but cannot move any of my limbs, nor yell to ask anyone to help me move.

Having family and friends who love you, will spend time with you, help one another out...a true gift from God, that's what makes it worth wading through the sad times.  ♥

Do you have something to offer on this subject?  Link up here:  I am hope...

August 15, 2012

Homemade cherry pie...

I bought a lot of cherries...and since the weather was cool, I thought I'd bake a cherry pie.  For the crust, I used Hilah's pie crust recipe, but doubled it, so I could have enough dough to do a lattice top:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  2/3 cup coconut oil (I got mine at Trader Joe's $5.99 for a 16 oz. jar)
  • 1/4 cup cold water 
  • a pinch of salt
I put everything in the freezer for about 5 minutes, then mixed well in my food processor, rolled out half of the dough for the bottom crust.  For the filling, I pitted the cherries and gently combined all the following ingredients:
  • 4 cups fresh cherries
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
I like simple recipes.  I used this vegan cherry pie recipe as inspiration, but simplified things.  I baked the pie at 350' F for a little longer than 30 minutes.  If you make this, you'll need to buy 2 to 3 pounds of cherries.  Enjoy!  ♥

August 10, 2012

New baby ♥ and other little ones...

 My sister, Mary, had a baby on Wednesday August 8th...she and her husband Andrey named her Elizabeth.  She was 7 pounds and 12 ounces.  We saw her on Skype yesterday, less than 24 hours old and she put her thumb in her mouth on her own.  We hope to go to Canada and meet her soon. ♥
 Trader Joe's fluit floes...Caribbean, coconut and strawberry are the best!  Just $1.99 for a box of 4.
 Water balloons with friends on a hot day!
Above, very sad little guy after a water balloon popped on him, just a little afterwards, in a dry shirt on the tire swing that Rob made, and he is happy again...
Do you have purslane growing in your backyard?  We have a lot.  I'd been pulling it up as a weed and found out that this green is edible and very good for you...loaded with omega-3 fatty acids!  So we're eating it today for lunch!!!

My favorite thing in our backyard garden this year are the huge yellow tomatoes, called King of Siberia.  We got the seeds last year at Baker Creek in Missouri.  The tomatoes taste scrumptious!
 Three purple was a pure coincidence that they all wore purple dresses! 

August 8, 2012


  • the first feather is from Nutmeg (our Rhode Island Red who is a little over a year old, molting for her first time, been 3 weeks already)
  • the second feather is from Pepper (our 11 week old Barred Rock)
  • the third feather is from Cinnamon (our 11 week old Araucana, born May 21, 2012)
Every Wednesday, I follow this yarn along and sometimes I'm actually working on something, crochet or knit, but not right now.  Today it's something especially interesting.......her husband is knitting!  I doubt Rob would pick up yarn and delve in, but I'm glad he enjoys gardening, watering, harvesting, sowing new lettuce seeds...
I ordered these bicycle pins from Joscie in Hawaii.  I ♥ them.  I went for a bike ride (alone) Saturday, just 2 miles.  Then, Olivia and I went for a bike ride yesterday.  We stopped to see some people in our neighborhood, Bob and Carol.  Carol has had Parkinson's disease for 20 years now and thankfully is still pretty independent.  We talked to Bob for quite a while, neither he nor Carol can drive right now, Bob just had hernia surgery! 
As you know, my father has Parkinson's disease.  It's been 9 years.  This past June, family and friends joined us as we walked a 5k to benefit Parkinson's research.  In exactly a month, September 8th (a day before my dad's 62nd birthday) there is a 40k bike ride for Parkinson's that I'm's a LONG ride.  Do you think I can do it?
 Nutmeg in the watermelon patch (Cinnamon and Pepper behind her)...
 Olivia is feeding Pepper and Cinnamon some mozzarella.
Lusy seems to like the chickens...if anything she might be a little afraid of them, or at least she is kind, giving them space.

August 3, 2012

Easy homemade ice cream...

* no ice cream maker required
Yesterday I made this pistachio ice cream (you can get creative and make whatever kind you want, next time I think I'll make it with pecans and top with caramel sauce):
  •  2 cups heavy whipping cream (I used half and half)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • about 1 cup shelled pistachios (we crushed them using our mortar and pestle) 
Using your mixer, blend the cream and condensed milk until peaks form (since I used half and half, it got really frothy, I will use cream next time, there just wasn't any cream when I wanted it, so I did my best)...then gently stir in the crushed pistachios and freeze for at least 3 hours.  Serve scoops sprinkled with more crushed pistachios a top.  ♥  I used roasted and salted pistachios.  That cold sweet and salty treat hit the spot last night...perfect for a hot summer evening!