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Magic Potion Kit

  We’re hunkered down at home today thanks to the weather.  All derby practices and scrimmages have been called-off on account of the wind storms and flooding in Portland.   All my big garden projects for the afternoon are similarly on hold.  But we have found plenty to keep us busy in the hosue today. Hal has a birthday party for a close friend from his ReWild Nature Immersion program, and I asked him what his friend might want for his birthday.  He replied, “Carmine’s really into Minecraft, and I think a magic potion kit would be a cool gift.

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End of Summer Salad

A friend from derby is recovering from a broken leg and I’m taking her tomato bisque and homemade bread for dinner and needed a salad for the side dish. The garden is bursting with tomatoes and peppers, the mint has spread everywhere, and the fall curly kale is ready to start harvesting.  I have a big block of feta in my fridge and a lot of Israeli couscous in my pantry.  And thus, this salad came together. (Note: The recipe serves four, but some of the quantities look large in the photos because I made a quadruple batch to share

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Little Tomte, Wooly Squirrel

Astrid Lindgren’s The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox are two of our most-cherished winter-time books.  I adored them as a child, and am very glad my kids love them, too. A few years ago, Ruth made a needle-felted fox and little Tomten, and the boys still look forward to playing with them while I read the stories.   The Tomten cares for the creatures of the forest and keeps watch over the animals of the farm.  He is a gentle, quiet little gnome and these simple stories of his unseen interactions on the farm resonate with young children. My children have

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Needle-Felting Kit

The girls wanted to share about a recent birthday gift they made for a friend: a simple needle-felting kit. My kids – like many kids – really enjoy playing and crafting with bit of wool and yarn.  Ruth, in particular, has enjoyed needle felting ornaments and little animals for her siblings for quite a long time.  Ruth wanted to make a gift for her friend -who is also quite artistic – and Ruth thought she might enjoy making little wooly creations, too. First, we found a basket at the thrift store that met with everyone’s approval.  Then, the girls cut

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Midwinter Sunshine

  Off the needles:   A simple pair of mitts for a gift exchange, to which I added a little needle-felted embellishment. Ruth painted a cheery sun on the card and we sewed a drawstring gift bag to round out the gift, and packaged it up.   It was sent it on its way across the country, where it will bring a fellow Grinnellian some Christmas cheer. To bring our own family a bit of sunshine in midwinter, a batch of sunny bright marmalade was in order.  I was planning on plain old orange, but when I managed to get

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‘Tis the Season

  Merry Christmas!  I’m trying to post a bit for the holidays, as time permits.  We will see if I can keep it up.  My laptop is still broken, so I am borrowing my husband’s late at night after the kids are in bed.   The girls and I spend much of our spare time with speed skating club and the girls’ roller derby (I’m joining the recreational league in January!).  Hal is learning to read and endlessly creating Lego sculptures, and George is full of joy and wonder and 2 yr-old energy.  We are making all sorts of changes

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Forest Quilts

A friend from the coast and my next-door neighbor are both expecting, and we wanted to make them both something special.  The girls and I shopped the remnant section at Fabric Depot, as well as the fabric shelves at our local thrift store, and put together two forest-themed baby quilts. This one is a Rain Forest theme for the next-door neighbor.  We used thrifted flannel sheets (triple layered) for the batting and a thrifted cotton sheet for the backing fabric (thrifted sheets = my favorite frugal quilt backing). This was the first time in years I’ve made a separate bias

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Beads and wire, and a little mania

Little Hen and I have been very busy the past two days working on Christmas gifts.  It may have, um, gotten a little out of hand. After a little mishap in which a certain little boy decided it would be hilarious to fling beads all over the living room while I was in the basement switching the laundry over, we have been beading until our fingers blistered (no joke!). If you’re a female relative, you just might be getting some earrings for Christmas.   We also made some pendants and beaded bookmarks for those without pierced ears.  (Shh.  Forget I said

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“It’s a Girl Thing” Kits

The kits are finished!! Many, many thanks to the nine ladies and three girls who helped sew, and the ladies who purchased fabric and undies for this project! Together, we have blessed and changed the lives of eleven young ladies in Ethiopia in a simple, but substantial way.  Thank you!

Sewing Service – “It’s a Girl Thing”

I’ve been given permission to put up a section of a recent post from Andrea’s blog, Babe of My Heart: Every month, I have to deal with what most girls deal with…a monthly cycle. Sorry if that’s too personal to say–but it should come as no surprise to you. I take for granted that every month I stock up on the things I need…and I can get them in any size, weight and style I would like. And not only that–I complain about my cramps. I complain that I am a bit inconvenienced and I remind my husband that he

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Wednesday Harvest

A few things from this morning’s harvest.  Carrots, beets, 3 types of kale, lots and lots of chard, and buckets full of sugar snap and snow peas. So grateful for the constant stream of Teaching Garden volunteers today.  Folks were working hard from 9:30 am straight through to 4:30pm.    We’re feeling very, very blessed.   A big thank you to all of the helping hands!

Last-minute handmade gifts

The weather here has been  bitterly, bitterly cold (we are eagerly anticipating our annual Christmas trip to Florida next weekend!!).  The past few days, we’ve built a big fort out of chairs and blankets in the living room.  We’ve been spending our mornings snuggled under it, reading Christmas stories (like this collection of short stories, and this, and this). While Tum Tum naps in the afternoon, the girls and I have been finishing some last-minute Christmas gift sewing.   The children’s’ Great Aunt gave us some lovely blue toile, and I picked up some other fabric at the thrift store (including

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Christmas Paper-Craft Kit

The girls are reaching an age where they really enjoy being able to participate in making Christmas gifts.  So, for their cousins (ages 5 1/2 and 3 1/2), we put together little paper-crafting kits, so Aasha and Ruby can enjoy an afternoon of Christmas crafting. This is a very frugal gift, costing us less than $1 per kit, since we used cardstock scraps and last year’s Christmas cards, as well as craft notions purchased at the thrift store.  It’s also a gift crafty kids will love – when I made my girls fall-themed kits for Thanksgiving day, they made cards,

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Pieces of our Saturday

A morning spent baking a pecan pie thank-you. An early afternoon spent planting hyacinths and digging earthworms with the girls. A late afternoon of immense blessing – We have been given an enormous maple loom, made right here in Oregon.   We spent about two hours getting it dissassembled, carried up our narrow stairway, and reassembled. It will need a good bath, a shuttle, some new pegs, but it is a beautiful, beautiful thing – an amazingly generous and precious gift.  The girls and I can’t wait to get her in working order and teach ourselves how to weave shawls and

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Princess and the Pea

We’re back in our old stomping ground – on the Central Oregon Coast – this weekend.  Some dear friends are having a cider pressing party, and we wouldn’t miss it for the world.  The weekend trip is also a gift to my dear husband, who celebrates his birthday today!  So, we’re staying in a yurt on Beverly Beach and I have promised the girls roasted marshmallows over the campfire.  (I hope to write a bit about our trip when we return home.) We wanted to bring a little something for our friends who are hosting the party – she was

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Hot Cocoa Mix

Today Firecracker and I are attending our church’s fall kickoff of our monthly Ladies’ Breakfast.  The pastor’s wife is hosting at her house, so we thought we’d take her (and her daughter – Firecracker’s friend) a little hostess gift when we go. Earlier this week, we went to to the thrift store and picked up a little basket, lined it with an embroidered linen hand towel (from my stash).  We also found two little silver spoons, and paired them with two vintage Japanese tea cups and saucers.  The tea cups had a glossy opalescence that Firecracker really liked  (“the inside

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Retro Fall Doll Quilt

Little Hen and I finished the  first scrap doll quilt in a while with more of a fall color scheme.  We made it for a friend who’s daughter has a birthday coming up. Actually, there wasn’t much to it -the four main blocks were in the middle of a big bag of  fabric scraps I had been given.  Little Hen picked out the orange fabric “because orange is a good fall color” (from the same bag of scraps). In the scrap bag was also some neutral-yellow cotton fabric in a large enough piece to fold triple thick to serve as

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Passing down

A day of sorting clothes for the change of seasons found lots and lots of dresses that are too small and will be passed down to a friend’s little girl.   Some were handmade for my girls, and It was bittersweet to see how much they had outgrown and to realize how quickly they’re growing up.  Seemed a very short while ago that these dresses were Little Hen’s, and then Firecracker’s, and now they’ll be another little girl’s. The girls reminisced for a bit (“Remember when I wore this dress to so-and-so’s birthday party?”, “Remember when you wore this outfit to

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Totes

Now, my sewing skills are pretty basic, (nothing like the beautiful sewing at Pleasantview Schoolhouse), but this week I tried my hand at making some farmer’s market totes. (A few more tote tutorials can also be found here, but I like how the pattern I used has the lining fabric peeking up above the edge of the bag). The first tote is made out of some vintage (1950’s?) fabric from the thrift store, with plain muslin lining and blue contrast stitching.  For the pocket on the front, I used a little heart I had been holding on to since I

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Penelope’s Garden

Another day’s harvest at Penelope’s Garden.  Fourteen pounds of beautiful organic produce picked and delivered to Birch Community Services! The girls were excellent green bean harvesters.  Little Hen and I may have snacked on a few while we picked. For more bountiful harvests, visit Soule Mama, Mom in Madison, Red Dirt Mother,  Old Red Barn Co., Heirloom Seasons, and Green Thumb Mama. What are you and your little ones harvesting this week?

Marionberry Liqueur

We like to make an assortment of flavored liqueurs to enjoy on cold winter evenings (and to give as gifts).  The list includes apricot or peach brandy, lemoncello, elderflower cordial, raspberry cordial (alcoholic, and non-), and cherry brandy (which makes a very special soaked-fruitcake at Christmas). I started making apricot vodka about 15 years ago (back in high school!) for my grandfather, but my current method was inspired by an article I saw 4 or 5 years ago in Backwoods Home Magazine (our library used to carry it – it’s a very…interesting magazine full of back-to-the-land and survivalist- type articles).

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Garden harvest

Fridays are my days to volunteer at Penelope’s Garden.  This week’s harvest was 29 lbs delivered to Birch Community Services!! The raspberries are all done for the year, the mint bolted in the heat, but the tomatoes and green beans are in full production!  There were even some carrots and a new patch of basil ready.   (I must admit, I couldn’t help myself and snacked on some of the tender beans while harvesting – SO delicious!) The heat wave, followed by the cool snap in the weather caused the Walla Walla sweet onions to bolt and then fall, so that

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Berry Pies

Another family at church has welcomed  their first baby.   It’s our privilege to bring them dinner tonight (and ooh and ahh over their little boy), so the girls helped me bake some Blueberry-Raspberry- Marionberry pies to take for dessert (I love living in the Northwest!). Firecracker helped with the lattice top, and Little Hen shaped the edges (I love seeing a child’s hand in the process). We always make some extra dough so that the girls can make their own little hand pies, dusted with sanding sugar,  for a good morning snack. Some other yummy goodies with berries being made

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Baby things

My brother and his wife are getting ready to welcome their second child in the next few weeks, so of course, that meant another opportunity to knit some booties.  The pattern is one I have used many many times – Ruth’s Perfect, in Cascade 220. To go along with the booties, a locally made walnut rattle we picked up at Milagros Boutique.   This rattle was so beautiful and made such a soft, sweet sound, I wanted one for myself!  Ah, well, maybe when we have our next baby… Just a few more weeks, and I’ll have a new niece or

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Handwork Cushion

A cushion handmade by my great-grandmother -  wool rug-hooking on black velvet, I believe.  My aunt found it in my grandmother’s house, and was set to throw it out (“it’s so kitschy, who would want it?”), but my mom immediately rescued it for me, knowing it would be right at home here .  I’m in love with colors, the birds, with having something of Ma-maw’s.

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