Sunday, December 27, 2009

Waiting Around

One way to pass the time while waiting near a sunny wall at dusk. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Our Nature Table

There's a fun little practice that I learned about through Waldorf education and The Creative Family: keeping a seasonal nature table specifically for young children. It makes me more aware of the changing cycle of the year and allows my daughter to participate in those cycles by having a place to display her treasures.

Our fall-time nature shelves are pack with goodies. I think my favorite moments this autumn have been when she finds a pretty leaf and says, "This goes on my nature shelf!" Part of the change happening outside then comes inside and becomes a part of us.

Nature Table pool on Flickr has some incredible photos & crafts.

This book has fun ideas:

The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year's Cycle with Seasonal Tableaux

by: M. Leeuwen, J. Moeskops

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Following the sun's warmth on a chilly autumn morning

We did it~
Five camping trips in one summer~
They were well worth the work of packing and unpacking, but I'm feeling like it's time to hibernate. It feels like time to be done. I'm ready for this to be the last one of the season and I want to take advantage of these sunny autumn days. We didn't go far, under an hour away to Lake Easton. (Although it took 3 hours because we thought we were going somewhere else which was closed for the season.) When we finally arrived, we happily pulled into an empty campground with a site (and playground) overlooking the lake. We had a bit of sunlight left, until we enjoyed a warm dinner by the campfire. As the sun came up, so did the cool mist from the lake. It was chilly! The tent was barely warm enough and Alita and I went down to the lake to welcome the rising sun on our skin. I so love this practice, only found while camping: following the sun's warmth on a chilly autumn morning.

Upon return to the site, Papa had warm oatmeal ready. Then, we explored our surroundings.

It was just fabulous what was lying out in the open on the evergreen needles.

We spent one more night in the tent, and then early in the morning Mama declared triumphantly, "I'm so *%#@! cold. Let's pack up the tent quick and go out to breakfast. We're done camping!" So the time came to say goodbye to our season of camping and my daughters first memories of sleeping outside to the sound of wind in the trees.
Bye-bye ... until next spring.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Piles O Pumpkins

Our weekly pick-ups at the farm are coming to an end. The final harvest is glorious and the pigs anticipate the last of the summer fruit. We have loved and learned and look forward to next spring! Now, my learning begins about new pumpkin varieties with which to make pie. So far, the Cinderella was delicious. ~ There's an entire greenhouse of squash for me to explore. ~

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our Mini Mammoths

So whatever happened with the urban sunflower house I was planning on creating in this April post? A few things:
  1. Russian Mammoth Sunflowers need ground to grow, not pots. In our neighborhood, the ones that were planted in direct soil were seriously MAMMOTH... as big as both of my arms encircled.
  2. We thinned ours so there were three per pot, but that's no "house."
  3. They also need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. We spread them out around the garden to provide just that. No house this summer, but I'm hopeful for next.
What did I adore about growing these? A few more things:
  1. They grew so tall that there's just something magical about being dwarfed by a flower in your garden. (I don't know, but is it similarly magical when you are dwarfed by your grown child? Sunflowers only take a number of weeks from seed to maturity vs. 18 years.)
  2. In the autumn, when they bend over and their seedy faces are arching into the tomatoes, there is such a human quality to their fallen stalks. Summer is really over. I feel just as droopy.
  3. The dinner plate size blooms that burst with seeds are a very tactile, seasonal project for little ones and adults alike. Tearing them apart and breaking into the seed cache was really impressive. Each bloom provided us with hundreds of seeds to plant next year and feed to the birds, or eat them too!
  4. When I took these to camp, I felt like a Mama squirrel collecting for winter as I handled my stash under a forest of golden leaves with my curious little squirrels by my side.
  5. Late September has never felt so right as it did among the sunflowers on our city street.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Sea stars, sea anenomes, sea cucumbers, oh my!

I'd like to share with you some tidepool glory from our summer visit to the
beaches near Kalaloch on the Olympic Peninsula. I was in a state of awe the entire time we explored this rocky coast.

I had
never seen such vast colonies of sea anenomes... and that was what was visible above the water line. Their magnificent bright blue-green color really surprised me. I recently learned that some anenomes this size (larger than both of my hands together) are more than 60 yrs. old. Live on Grandmom anenomes! Then there's the starfish . . . their hues of bright orange and deep pink and the way they snuggle together.

I stood watching the turbulent waves rushing in, trying not to step on anything.

This is what I hoped we would find when I put my 3 year old in the car for a five hour drive out to the Olympic Peninsula ... a natural phenomena that would blow my mind, and
it did.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Camping with kittens across a swing bridge

Morning crossing

That's the same look I had on my face
being awoken at 8 a.m. by a pile driver.
One traditional type of pile driver uses a heavy weight
when released from its highest point it
smashes on to the pile in order to drive it into the ground
(The construction on the nearby levy to increase salmon habitat -!!!- will be done soon.)

off to breakfast by the river
and what do we find

but her first chance to hold a kitten

"Can you get me a little white kitten?" she asks.Back to the site for some important dental hygiene rituals.

Mama likes feeling the movements of our family as we are
over that clear clear river water.
and finally in that water
a little r&r is in order
for everyone.Papa makes sure we'll have plenty of fuel for our fireside chat.


We talk until it feels really really really late know, like 10:30 pm
Hauling it all back to the car.

This place was definitely a great spot to camp with little ones. The walk-in aspect makes for less noise and people, but it's also more of a work out.
I loved:
  • that it was only 40 minutes from home
  • the river was clear cool and gorgeous
  • swing bridge
  • hundreds of bats catching mosquitoes for us at night over the river
  • not to mention kittens.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Green Smoothies

What is a Mama to do with this much chard and kale in her garden?
As well as all the greens from the CSA membership?

First, put one little urban farmer to work,

carefully harvesting kale.

then send it to the super-munching machine, along with
blueberries and lots of good fats for those skinny little ribs.
Alita controls all the buttons on the blender and adds all the
greens and fruit into the small opening of the rubber lid.

and wa la!

Green Smoothie Recipe
  • 5 leaves of greens (purple kale is sweetest, trim stems from all kale and chard, use only leaves. Spinach and chard are mild tasting and easy on your blender. Most lettuces end up tasting bitter, just add more sweetener)
  • 1 cup yogurt, cream and/or milk
  • banana
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh berries, apple or other fruit
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
Blend yogurt, milk and banana, sweeteners and molasses. Have your child add the greens and fruit. This is our basic morning recipe, but avocado, flax seed, nuts, leftover cooked oatmeal or quinoa also make it into our smoothies. I love adding molasses, the flavor takes the edge off the bitter greens and adds a little iron boost. I also add good fats (avocado, coconut oil, summer butter or your favorite dairy) so we can more easily absorb the nutrients from the greens.

We also like to use these glass straws that are extra wide (new to me, they have a fabulous Lifetime Guarantee Against Breakage for a glass drinking straw, awesome.
We will be using that!) They are not only beautiful,
which helps Alita joyfully sip her drink, but physically necessary. Cheers to you and many more mornings of adorable miracle vegetable intake.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Farm

Over yonder, about 40 minutes east from our Seattle home, there's the land that grows our food. For 20 weeks we pick up our veggies from the farm. We see, feel and breathe the soil and labor that nourishes us. Our CSA membership is at Jubilee Biodynamic Farm in Carnation, WA.

Now, introducing the piglets. They are a major hit with all of us. Especially this week when it was a freak +104 degrees! We were alone with the pigs one morning and Farmer Erick hollered from his tractor, "Do the pigs need to be watered? There's a hose right there if you want to turn it on!" Oh and did we turn it on. I thought,
Now never having actually watered pigs, do I actually spray the pigs or just fill the water trough?"
I couldn't resist, I lifted the hose arching water into the air until it just lightly squirted the side of some pink piggy skin. They were already running toward us. Oh my! Have you ever seen a pig dance Wilbur style from Charlotte's Web? I'm talking squealing, vigorous-snout-in-the-mud-action, bounding-through-the-air, mud-puddle-flopping, craziness... Alita and I took turns with the hose until the pigs got bored and avoided us completely on the other side of the pen. After a while, my husband returned from U-picking in the fields. I said to Alita, Let's show Papa how we water the pigs. I acted all non-chalant, Honey watch her water them, it's cute. He sits down on a nearby bench thinking she'll just fill up their mud puddle. Not a few moments later are they charging towards the turned on hose. Alita, the pigs and I are squealing in delight and I hear Taho running from the bench, Let me try it! Oh the delight on his face, hose in hand as he sprayed those pigs. Pure hilarity for the humans and euphoria for the swine.

As you can see, this is the kind of thing that connects families with the nature of growing food.