Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lovejoys Everywhere

How funny! Sharon Lovejoy wrote to me to say it must be a different person since her son is happily married. :-) How nice of her to write.

I remember when Reg Down wrote to me to say thank you for saying such nice things about his Tiptoes Lightly books. It is nice when people you admire contact you across the internet. It makes the world seem like such a small and cozy and friendly place.

Thanks Sharon!

Caps for Sale

Tonight Rebecca requested Caps for Sale for her bedtime story and I realized it would be a perfect story for Toddler Time at the Library! I can be the peddlar and when I fall asleep under the tree, the children can all be the monkey and can put silk scarves on their heads. Then we can act out them imitating me and, finally, throwing all their silks down for me to collect!

Now that I'm thinking 2-3 year olds, I'm finding ideas everywhere: The Breathing Circle by Nell Smyth, Suzanne Down's newsletters, even Living Crafts magazine has a good toddler story (the one Suzanne Down contributed with the little felted fish and the large shell). This week we are doing G and the 3 B with texture explorations and I am also beginning my watercolor painting class on Sat. I am supplying the Stockmar paints (the six colors from Nova Natural), painting jars, the 1/2 inch brushes, the sponges, and the bin for soaking the paper. I purchased (spent $72) five tablets of watercolor paper, two big and three small, three different types of sea sponges for texture work, and five tubes of paint. At Nicole's conference I was talking to a woman who said that she gave her students red, yellow, blue, and one other tube of color each session and they had to mix the entire rainbow of colors before they began to paint. The example she gave was burnt sienna. I thought that sounded like fun so we might try that on the second class. We are doing 3 two hour sessions. I am thinking basically to do how to properly care for your materials, soaking paper, color stories, painting the rainbow and color mixing. Then to go outside and paint something from nature. The second class to work more on color mixing and form, adding texture with sponges and watercolor pencils. The third class to add in watercolor resists with beeswax crayons and to do something with salt. I have How to Do Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting (Rauld Russell's book), Painting in Waldorf Education (which gives lots of good exercises) and Watercolor Pencil Magic by Cathy Johnson, so I will begin to work on reading those and get more of a plan formulated. I don't know yet how many students I will have.

Anyway, these are the five colors I picked (Grumbacher)

Burnt Sienna

Chromium Oxide Green

Thio Violet

Cadmium Orange

Charcoal Gray

Friday, September 26, 2008


Anyone going to Rahima's conference in Colorado next month?

I wish I could go but I'm still trying to see if it would work out. Last year she gave Steve a free tuition in exchange for making some conference recordings and I finally got those CDs from him! I am super excited to listen to them and quilt. Ah, what a dull life. But a happy one.

By the way, I don't think I ever posted my six degrees of separation story for Sharon Lovejoy. She's one of the keynote speakers. Her book Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children is totally awesome! Actually, if you have her older one Sunflower Houses : Inspiration from the Garden - A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups, there is a really cool recipe for a clock garden with different flowers blooming throughout the day and you plant them in a circle to make a clock face. Anywho, here is my connection with her

1) I went to a conference at Barbara Dewey's house over the summer
2) BD's granddaughter was the chef
3) the granddaughter's boyfriend was also there, and (ta da!)
4) his sister's...
5) boyfriend's...
6) mother is Sharon Lovejoy

How funny is that.

The Economy

Well, it looks like my grandparents were right. We all should have been living all this time with the lessons of the Great Depression. I am lucky because I am so poor that all I have is $113.00 in the bank. I am grateful that I am not watching my investments go down the drain. Stocking up on food and water and medicine. What else can you do? Oh, and make sure you have a back up source of heat in case the whole entire world goes back to the Dark Ages. :-)

My neighbors have horses so I can take a child to the hospital if I need to. Of course, the hospitals will probably be out of power and out of medicine. Thus comes the great Pandemic Flu...

Doomsday Prophesies always seem rather silly. Makes you think, though, about what would happen if all the civilization we take for granted crumbles.

I hope that people stay safe and healthy, whatever happens.

It seems silly to be talking recipes when the world is coming to an end, but I will still share. The food pantry gives us a choice of Corn Flakes or Oatmeal each week and since my kids won't eat the Corn Flakes, I always get the other. You can use them in the regular way as a hot cereal, make oatmeal raisin cookies, oatmeal bread, granola, granola bars, even oatmeal baths. So today I went hunting for a fresh source of Granola Recipes and here is the one I am going to try today: Cinnamon Stovetop Granola. I am intrigued by the stovetop preparation method.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I have been doing so much work on the website lately! Today I wrote up and posted my Form Drawing notes and also added some French preschool verses (morning verse, evening verse, mealtime blessing). The FD notes are subscription but the French stuff is in the free section. I also updated the Old Testament Stories page with some of the projects we've done in Sunday School. Hopefully people find it inspiration and not "she's so full of herself." :-)

Today's recipe recommendation: Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts.

Last year Natalie brought home all this artwork from school and I never could figure out what to do with it. This year I realized, why not just tape it to the walls? My ex wouldn't let me put tape on the walls because I guess it takes off the paint or something but I hate endless drywall painted white (grew up in a knotty pine cabin) and so I have vowed to hang up all the art I want to. I think it will make the house look very cheerful!

This weekend Steve has the kids. I am going to the funeral on Saturday and teaching S.S. on Sunday (this week is the Exodus story of Water from the Rock) but other than that I think I'll just be doing laundry and dishes, cooking and packing, spending time with friends, and hand quilting this whale project. It will be drizzly and overcast all weekend so it's a nice time to settle in and be cozy.

The church was dividing their iris beds so I have a grocery bag full of iris (I think it's corms) which I should get into the ground at some point... I think I'll plant them at the house we're going into not the house we're at now. I poured bulbs into the ground last year and it will make me sad to leave them all behind. It will brighten the Spring for the next family, though! And with the mortgage crisis, who knows how long it will be before the house gets sold and we're evicted. I'm hoping that we don't have to move around Christmas time. I think that would be really hard for the kids.

Last night was the first time I thought, hmmm. I think I'll have to turn on the heat soon. It's getting colder here!

I hope to get my Goldilocks and the Three Bears notes up soon. I have several ideas. After the storytelling we are going to do Texture explorations so I need to brainstorm that. Plus, I have some CDs to recommend (G and the 3 B in French, and in Spanish, and a fun musical version that Gary Rosen did).


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Musings

I'm using the rest of the tin of evaporated milk from the fudge in a lovely Roasted Eggplant Soup. We got a long baguette from the food pantry so those will go well together. The children demanded to have the "real" macaroni and cheese today so we are having that for dinner. :-)

This weekend is the county fair. I have decided to take the children on Friday even though it is supposed to rain cats and dogs. It is the day when children are free and Tidewater gets out at noon so that the children can go. There is no school at all for the public school kids. So it is packed with families and a really fun day.

Working on a lot of sewing lately. Hmmm. Christmas is fast approaching. The chair covers, then the baby Moses doll. I'm also taking our hand felted Jonah and the Whale piece and making a wall hanging with it. I am sewing the felted piece to a watery background and quilting all around with waves. This way we can hang it on the wall of our classroom. Making the chalkboard is fun but I think it will be expensive once we get all the chalkboard paint that will be required. I will let you know the final price once I know it.

Does anyone out there remember Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel? Leah has been asking me to read it every day at naps. I remember when I was a kid, that the satisfying resolution was NOT that they dug the cellar in a day, NOT that Mary Anne got to stay and be the furnace for the new town hall, but that the mean man finally smiled in a nice way at the end. That for me was the most important part.

One of the farms we drive by on the way to school had a field with donkey, a goat, and a mystery creature. I wasn't sure if it was a llama or an alpaca so I looked it up on the internet (handy thing). Llama for sure! We drive on all the back roads to get to school so we can see the horses, cows, the bunny hutch, and just generally enjoy the scenery. It takes 20 minutes longer but what the heck.


I ended up combining several recipes, including one from to come up with this:

Baked Apples

Wash apples. Core apples with a melon baller to make a ¾ inch wide cavity, stopping ½ inch from the bottom. Peel top inch of apples; place in ramekin. Fill with dried cherries and finely chopped walnuts. Sprinkle with ½ packet Splenda no-calorie sweetener and dot with a small piece of butter.

Microwave on High, individually, for four minutes each.

For a delicious sauce, mix 2 tsp. sour cream into liquid from dish, drizzle over apple.

I hope that pleases them!

I did a ton of cooking last night: apple bran muffins, fudge, the baked apples, and a lovely pasta dish which I want to share. It is so simple and the kids loved it. Coarsely chop about a pound and a half of tomatoes. Warm some olive oil in a medium saucepan and throw the tomatoes in with a generous splash of orange juice. Add salt and pepper. Let simmer while the pasta water comes to a boil. Add a box of macaroni noodles to the pasta water, cook until al dente, drain, and add the tomato-orange sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and mix. Delicious. You would think the orange + tomato would be too acidic but it simmers for long enough that the flavors mellow and they complement each other nicely.

Today Leah told me at lunch time that she was going to eat all her pasta to earn her "pudge." I thought that was so cute!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wheat-Free, Sugar-Free

I have to make a wheat-free sugar-free dessert for a friend tomorrow night. She is grieving the loss of her father. At first I was stumped, between her dietary restrictions and those of her husband, but I hit on the perfect Autumn dessert. Baked Apples! I will have to leave out the brown sugar but I think they will still be sweet and delicious with cinnamon, pecans, and raisin filling. Maybe I will put in some orange juice to help them stay juicy.

The Toddler storytime had an attendance of 0, because we did not orchestrate the publicity well, but they are allowing us to try again in October and so I will be prepping Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

September 20

Today was an absolutely wonderful day. I've been complaining because with all the kids sick (Natalie is now running a low fever) I thought we'd miss out on all the cool things this weekend has to offer -- Artsfest, the War of 1812 Reenactment at JPP, and so on. And this morning I had a bleak outlook on life. But we had such a wonderful low-key family day. I made a breakfast from scratch, breakfast sausage patties made of ground turkey and scrambled eggs full of shredded cheese. Natalie mixed up the sausage and Leah mixed up the eggs. They were each so pleased to be helpful. For her part, Rebecca fed and watered the parakeet all by herself. After breakfast I washed all the dishes and Natalie volunteered to clean the kitchen floor. So she and Leah went to town with some cloth diapers and a spray bottle of water mixed with white vinegar. They cleaned for almost an hour! Prior to that they were putting marbles in different containers and shaking them to make musical instruments so it was definitely a expansion time. There was a lot of noise in the house! Then they calmed down and helped clean the kitchen. After all that work we had refried beans and chips and salsa and applesauce for lunch then headed to the little cabin to get some laundry det (Maggie's soap nuts) and paper towels, both supplies that got left behind in the basement after we vacationed there this summer.

Went to Clagett Farm to get our CSA pickup. They are past the summer peak but there was still a lot in season: fresh garlic, string beans, radishes, okra, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, and winter squash (butternut, acorn and pumpkin). We loaded up our bags with a double share, since I missed it last weekend, and then came home. On the way back we passed our church which was having Autumnfest (fried chicken and crabcake supper, bake sale, yard sale, and so on) and I felt the girls were up to a little dinner out of the house. So we changed our clothes (Becca had had an accident at the farm) and I put away the produce and we went to church. The girls enjoyed fried chicken, crabcakes, potato salad, green beans, applesauce and a biscuit. And ice cream for dessert. I was grateful because the person in line in front of me anonymously paid for our meal tickets, saving me $17 which I was then able to spend on the produce they were selling out front. For $16.00 I got a basket of tomatoes, 12 ears of corn, a peck of apples, and a peck of sweet potatoes. Then we got a small paperback book at the yard sale for five cents (which Natalie proudly counted out in pennies) and the man there gave us each a free bottle of water which we will save for the next time we go hiking. The bake sale lured me in with a pumpkin pie and a plate of cupcakes with chocolate icing ($6.00). What a lovely day!

Tomorrow is Sunday School and church and then, depending on how the children are feeling, we might go to Artsfest after all. Or we may just stay at home. I was so pleased with how helpful the children were today -- Becca even helped wash silverware -- and they were so kind and considerate and pleasant to be around. The past few days, with everyone sick, have been hard and I was definitely falling behind on all the housework, so a day of catch-up and family time was just the ticket. And I feel ashamed of myself for waking up thinking it was going to be an awful day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Toddler Prep

So here I am at 10 o'clock at night getting my basket of things ready for tomorrow's storytime. 6 colors/flavors of homemade play dough. My silks basket. Six felt finger puppets. Handouts. The Little Red Hen story. Suzanne's book of patterns and verses in case families want to see it or in case we decide to extend the story with a little verse about one of the animals.

I can't wait for tomorrow! I'm so excited about it.

In family news, Leah is worse (you can hear her whistling when she breathes, she's really laboring) and Rebecca now has a fever. I have to do the storytime tomorrow because the other woman who was going to do it with me is out of town -- her father is very sick. She is the friend I felted the angel for and I hope it is helping her! Anyway, it is all on me so I will pop up the library, entertain some toddlers, and then come back and be with my kids. They'll be with Grandma while I'm at the library. This weekend I had planned all kinds of fun activities but I think we'll just stay at home and rest. Natalie asked me tonight if we could make cookies tomorrow after she gets home from school; I think that's an excellent idea. And it will be nice to spend some special time with her. She's been left in the dust a little with her sisters being sick.

I updated my Infant & Toddler curriculum page on the website with my Toddler Notes:, including the handout for tomorrow which features a simple bread recipe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Isn't That a Lot?

Someone on Freecycle is giving away a guinea pig so I asked Leah (she's home with me today, sick) - do you think we should get a guinea pig? And she says, "No. We already have a lot of pets. " But I was looking online: Keeping Guinea Pigs as Pets and it says they are friendly and like to cuddle and so I showed her the picture and was saying how nice it would be. This child looks right at me and says, "That would be three pets. Isn't that a lot to take care of?"

How did she get to be so practical????

Maybe Santa will bring me a g.p. in my stocking.

I just love animals. I'm still kicking myself because I didn't take the free duck someone was giving away in the Pennysaver. And my heart is telling me to rescue the Tidewater Sheep before they get auctioned off at the county fair at the end of the month and slaughtered... (I do have that shed in the back yard. And I have been trying to figure out how to keep the lawn mowed.)

Seat Covers

I have had an ongoing dilemma with our dining room chairs. They are quite old (were given to me by my aunt, who got them from her parents, are they older than that?) and the chair cushions were rotten and the dog would nibble on them as he passed by. Even with covers, they were disgusting. So I tore the upholstery off and now they are bare wood. I was thinking of reupholstering them and even got some fabric. Now, the problem is that I don't have the money for upholstery foam AND I really need the chairs to be washable. I was reminded of this yesterday when Leah threw up all over her chair. They were bare wood, so I could wipe them down, but that wouldn't be possible if I reupholstered them. However, I can't leave them bare wood. They are flat (no little curves in them to fit your body) and extremely ugly, plus there is a little tiny bit of a nail sticking out of each one in four places where the seat is fastened to the chair so you can prick yourself on them if you don't sit right in the center of the seat. In short, I can't leave them the way they are and I can't reupholster them. I was thinking of asking someone to cut a thicker piece of wood for me for each seat, so the nails are not a problem, but -- again -- that is time and money. I want something thick and comfy but removable and washable. Today in the car it struck me:


I have all the supplies on hand -- old sweaters from the salvation army. I can felt them, sew them up nice and thick, put ties on them so I can tie them to the chairs and when someone spills something or throws up on a chair I can pull the felt seat covers off and throw them in the wash in hot water and it won't ruin them! I am so excited about this! My project for today is to work on this & I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Little Red Hen

I am gathering my supplies to make finger puppets for The Little Red Hen. The basic text of this story can be found online: I was inspired by this story which contains a Duck as one of the figures (Paul Galdone's features the recalcitrant Cat, Dog, and Mouse) to think of other animals which might play a part in the story. Using Suzanne Down's excellent book of animal finger puppet patterns, I think I will make:

p.71 Chicken
p.79 Dog
p.81 Cat
p.93 Bunny
p.95 Squirrel
p.97 Hedgehog

This way the little red hen can ask her housemates dog & cat first for help, then finding them to be too lazy she can take a walk in the field and find the other three and ask them for help. Of course, this means that when the aroma of the freshly baked bread comes wafting through the house and out into the yard, all five of them can appear (on the five fingers of my hand) eager for a taste!

For Harvest follow-ups I want us to do some kind of modeling material to imitate making bread, or perhaps even knead some bread dough -- I still need to think this part through. First comes making the puppets and practicing the story. The downside to mixing bread dough is that the flour gets everywhere and the library might not invited us back if they have to vacuum the carpet...


Leah has bronchitis and will be home for a week. She had a croup attack Thursday night, developed a fever over the weekend while she was at her dad's house and this morning was coughing so hard that she threw up her breakfast. When I took her to the pediatrician he was stunned at how much fluid was in her lungs. She's not acting sick, she's bouncing around, so it is hard to convince her to rest.

Sunday School is going well -- we sewed beanbags last week and filled them with rice so we can do throwing and catching games while we recite whatever it is that we want to memorize. Storywise we are on Exodus, with last week being the parting of the Red Sea. Next Sunday we will review that story and then move on to Manna and Quail. Also we will do the first Form Drawing lesson: straight line and curve. The children got permission from the trustees to paint an old rolling bulletin board with chalkboard paint so that I can do chalkboard drawings of our stories (a Waldorf-y thing I've always been dying to try) so we will sand it and paint it with chalkboard paint on Sunday. I got a lovely blue. This way I don't have to color the sky, just whatever is going on in the scene.

I also am going to be working on a baby Moses doll. The children and I decided on Black Boucle hair and Mocha skin from Magic Cabin, so I am ordering it now.

This week is my first Toddler Storytime, the story of The Little Red Hen. Next I have to make finger puppets to tell it with. I haven't decided between Suzanne's finger puppet animals book or the patterns in Feltcraft. Or there's needle felting... Yesterday I made a lovely angel for a dear friend. It is so renewing to the spirit to do felt sculpture, I don't know why. The materials are just so warm, if the wool is plant dyed it is so lovely, and the process of sculpture means that you have to pull up a really clear image in your mind of what you are making and you make a very meaningful connection with it. To do an angel calls up in your soul visions of angels, and it is wonderful.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Library List

Yesterday Leah began ballet class, courtesy of my mother, and while she was dancing her little heart out the other two children and I went to the library and stocked up on books. We've neglected the library lately, mostly because I forget to return books, but I think that having a weekly timeslot to go will help with that. These aren't recommendations, since I haven't read them yet, but just a list of what I thought (or the children thought) looked interesting.

due October 2nd:

I also want to check out Word Freak -- for myself -- this weekend. The world of competitive Scrabble...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kid Gift Ideas

Since I'm brainstorming things for my children to give for Christmas, I thought I'd list some others. Our budget means that projects are dictated by what we have a surplus of around the house.

Cinnamon Ornaments -- these are fun to cut out with cookie cutters and smell delicious!

Painted Flower Pots with apple seeds planted in them -- we can do the story of Johnny Appleseed first

Felted Soaps -- super hands on and messy. Last year we gave some homemade bathtub paint that was a blast to make.

Cookies -- baking is always fun :-)

I'm not sure what to do for Christmas cards, I'd like to do something hand stamped this year. If I start early enough the kids can also help with that. I also like to wrap gifts in plain white paper decorated with crayon drawing or paintings so we'll have to work on some extra art creations.

Harvesting Worm Castings

So, we've had the worm bin for about a year and I finally decided to take out the four inches of castings that are sitting in the bottom. I tried several ways but settled on removing all the large pieces of bedding, taking small handfuls of castings mit worms and placing them in a colander and shaking it gently to get all the loose castings out of the bottom. This way little pieces of newspaper, food, seeds, and worms don't end up in the castings. Then we can bottle it up in little spice jars and give it to people as gifts with directions to make "worm tea" for fertilizing houseplants. I love Christmas. :-)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Not It After All

So today Leah woke up with twice the spots as before and she was howling and hanging on to me... so no school and we went to the pediatrician instead. Where he said it was not chicken pox. Although I told him I had had the c.p. a few weeks ago. He said it was bug bites. And then we got home and there was a letter to parents that we had a confirmed case of the c.p. in the preschool classroom. And I called the pediatrician again and he said it was not chicken pox. So we are treating with an anti-itch syrup for bug bites.

We'll see...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pink Polka Dots

Last night the dog howled all night and Leah spent the entire night waking up and crying. I didn't know what was wrong so I moved her to my room halfway through the night in case she was getting sick. Today the mystery was revealed. She is completely covered in Poison Ivy! That hike on Monday really got her good -- and we came straight home and took baths with poison ivy soap, too -- and staying on the path religiously -- and I was watching for it... but all of those things notwithstanding, the girl is now covered in Pink Polka Dots of calamine lotion.

"Mama, I want you to put a little more pink on me."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Enrichment Saturdays

So, I'm contracted to do two three-week Saturday AM sessions, one series in October on Watercolor Painting (9 am to 11 am) and one in December on Natural Gift Making (probably the same time but perhaps 9 am to noon, depending on how involved I make the projects). Also on the table are Storytelling and Puppetry, but I think that topic will be in the Winter when we can't really go outside whereas you want to do Painting outside if you can. So I am super-excited about those opportunities!

I'm also working on my website, some writing projects, a new consulting client...

Life is good.

The Firefly Forest

"A Little Nap"

Yesterday, Labor Day, there was no school and so I got to enjoy my children for all 3 days of the long weekend! We started the AM with a hike at the ACLT, then had lunch and a nice long nap and visited my Grammy and then stopped at a friend's house to pick vegetables from their garden. While we were visiting in their kitchen Rebecca suddenly threw up all over the floor and me. I got her home, no temp, tucked her into bed with a drink of water and she slept soundly all night. This morning she had a very slight temperature and was listless and pale so she obviously was sick and didn't go to school. When I just went to check on her because I heard her cough, she was sitting up and drinking from her water bottle and I said, Becca, I'm sorry that you're sick. How can I help you to feel better? She climbed onto my lap, snuggled for a long time, and then said in a tiny voice, "Could I just have a little nap?"


This kid is sick.

So I'm glad that I don't have a full time job yet and that I can be here for her, resting quietly at home. I'm doing Waldorf Curriculum work this morning and this afternoon I have a conference call with the school about the toddler program and weekend enrichment for the kindy/elem students. Hopefully we'll make some good progress at that meeting! Right now I am writing up a blurb for the state of MD about the curriculum for toddler. I love the Olympia Waldorf School website; they have a nice overview of Waldorf. We plan to base the program quite a bit on Sarah's work in Nurturing Children and Families.