Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Wrap-Up

Hello again! Took a short break from the blog during the busyness of the past few weeks. Here's how we have been spending our days this holiday season:

Making salt dough hand ornaments for Daddy

Drinking tea (always)

Beautiful buttons! (Made by B--thin slices of a branch of cherry wood)

Sewing a play cape for C (pattern from this book)

Christmas morning 

The tree at night

Sweet kids in their Christmas robes (made by their great, great aunt!)

Painting the dining room, a long overdue project (tackled on the day after Christmas!). 

... and after! Ahh, I love this blue.

And today, visiting a duck pond with dear friends

And so 2011 draws to a close. All in all, it has been a great year for us, despite its ups and downs. Wishing everyone a very happy new year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

Last week our family went for a pleasant morning hike. The December air was crisp and misty and the old mossy trees smelled amazing. Signs were placed along the trail telling a little story about a field mouse who went exploring in the deep woods. The story added a bit of extra whimsy to an already magical hike.

 Into the old forest!

Little gnomes amongst the ferns.

Reading along with the Field Mouse's Tale.

Setting the pace.

Old bearded limbs.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Solstice!

 I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
Oliver Herford

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Fermentation Station

I finally received a copy of the book Wild Fermentation, which I'd had on hold at the library for quite some time. As expected, it was right up my alley and I wanted to jump right in to making every single recipe in the book! But, I decided to start with sauerkraut. Next up will be t'ej (honey wine), once we replenish our honey stocks. Fermentation is so magical--it's amazing to see (and taste) the transformation that can happen when something is given time and just the right environment to flourish. Hmm, seems to fit right in with the theme of this blog!

Here is our current fermentation station in the kitchen--soon to grow!

 From left to right: sauerkraut, sourdough starter (now almost 1 year old!) and kombucha. The one on the far right... well, that experiment was a massive failure. Now, let us never speak of it again ;)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Spiral

Last Friday, we got all dressed up and headed over to C's preschool for a truly beautiful event, the winter spiral.

When we walked into her classroom, it had been magically transformed, with a large spiral of evergreen boughs in the center of the room. There were small golden stars placed throughout the spiral, and at the center was a candle on a small table. The children were ushered to their seats, and as we listened to live cello music, the children one by one were given a candle nestled within a fresh apple (which made a nice stable candle holder). Each one entered the spiral, walking carefully to the center where they lit their candle. They walked out of the spiral until they found a golden star, placing their candle on the edge of the spiral and taking the star with them. It was truly amazing to see the quietness and reverence that the calm atmosphere brought out in the children. D, usually a cyclone of activity, contentedly snuggled on my shoulder as I held him through most of the ceremony, watching the festivities and very clearly at peace ("blissed out," as B said). One of the preschool parents (the designated photographer) was taking photos, but the rest of the parents were asked not to bring cameras. So, I won't be able to post any photos until the photographer sends them, but I was glad to just be able to experience the event, to be fully present as the children each made their way so carefully through the spiral and the room slowly filled up with light. It was enough to just watch my little girl, sitting straight and tall in her chair looking adorable in her pigtails, and to see her face light up in a big smile when she caught my eye across the room, as D rested his head on my shoulder. Ah, this is the internal picture I took that I hope to always remember.

And I will also remember that when it was her turn, she walked up carefully and lit her candle--but she turned the wrong way, and ended up at the end of the spiral. Unlike the other children, who realized that they needed to turn around, she stepped over the evergreen boughs into the next path of the spiral... which led her right back to the center. And then she did the same thing again--lost in the spiral! I was trying very hard to stifle my (loving, of course) laughter as her teacher helped to guide her back out. She was completely oblivious about the whole thing, and I don't intend to burst her bubble. Oh, my girl. I love her so very much.

This festival was such a wonderful way to celebrate this season, when we welcome the return of the light, and to bring attention to the light inside of each of us which guides us through the dark days of winter. The serenity of the festival, the reverence for the wonder of life that is felt but does not need explanation, the attention to details that contributed to such a rich sensory experience (the spicy smell of pine boughs, the soft candlelight, the lovely music), and the trust that, given the right environment, children are capable of so much more than we often think--these are some of the things I most love about the Waldorf approach to education, and I feel so honored to have been able to take part in this beautiful festival.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Trip to the Homeland

This past weekend, B and I returned to our homeland in the high desert: the place where we both grew up, and the place where we met. We had a wonderful time visiting with family and enjoying the sunny (though cold) weather. We were also happy to be there to offer our congratulations to C&D's Auntie N, who just graduated from nursing school!

Following are some photos from our journey:

Playing in Grandpa and Grandma's cozy living room

D talking on his play phone

Clowning around

With Auntie K at the park

Navigating the grass maze (when in doubt, just go off-roading)

C with her little doggie

 Auntie K with her little doggie

Walking back to Nonna's house
 Long shadows in the late afternoon

Ah, siblings. Sometimes their relationship is happy and peaceful as shown above...

 ... and sometimes it's more like this.

Visiting with cousin S!

 Making "gingerbread" (graham cracker) houses with cousin at Nonna's--what fun! (Although C's roof kept caving in since she applied too much force, but we managed to put it back together again.)

All in all, such a lovely trip. We miss you all already!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Learning from the Expert

Here are just a few things that D has learned from his sister:

1. Be very particular about which spoon you eat each meal with. And which chair you sit in.

2. Cough into your elbow, not your hand.

3. If someone gets hurt, go find a stool, open up the freezer, and get Bucky. Bring him to the injured party to help them feel better. (Though D is still a little too short to open the freezer, he does the first two steps.)

4. If something doesn't go your way, throw yourself on the ground, scream, and kick.

5. Treat your babies gently, with lots of tender loving care.

6. Siblings make the best playmates!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh, the Places I'll Sew

If this table and chair look comically small, it's because they are! This is our coffee table and one of the kid chairs, otherwise known as my studio. It's not a terribly comfortable setup as I squeeze into the chair and engage in some contortionist presser-foot acrobatics, but it's pretty much my only option for getting sewing done at night. Our dining room table, which would be much more comfortable, is right outside the children's bedroom. In the summer, I can sew in the basement on an old desk, but it's much too cold and dark downstairs at this time of year.

And that reminds me, I should introduce my faithful sewing machine, Betty! She came into our family when I found her at a rummage sale (a real steal at only $15!!). She has helped re-awaken a long-dormant creative side of me, and for that I am very thankful.

So, while I dream of one day having a real studio, or at least a small space dedicated to crafting, for now I'll just work with what I've got... and what I've got is this.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Winter Picnic

One sunny day, we packed up and walked over to the nearby botanical gardens to have a lovely little winter picnic. There's something about eating outside in the cold weather that is so invigorating...


We capped it off by running down the hill--a perfect afternoon!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Magic Ships

We saw some ships come sailing in one dark night...

An onboard choir treated us to a beautiful concert. Their carols were lovely, but...

Too loud! said C.

Well, at least there was hot chocolate to be had. (And us grown-ups certainly enjoyed ourselves.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lantern Walk Song

A few weeks ago, C treated her Grandpa and Grandma to a lovely rendition of one of her lantern walk songs. Enjoy!

I'm walking with my lantern, my lantern walks with me
Above the stars are shining, below are shining we
My light goes out, we're going home
My light goes out, we're going home
I'm walking with my lantern....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Opening Weekend

A few shots from the weekend. The tea shop looks absolutely amazing!

Many congrats to my husband and his business partner for making their vision become reality!