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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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A Morning Indoors

Hal is at ReWild’s Nature Immersion program on Fridays.  It’s the highlight of his week.  He gets to run around outside all day, learn primitive skills, and engage in loads of imaginative play with his friends.  He comes home tired, filthy, and very, very happy. It’s not just a benefit for him:  In a house with lots of kids, sending just one kid off for the day has lots of perks.  It not only provides him with adventure apart from his siblings, but it also reduces the conflict, mess, noise, etc in the house by a significant portion.  And considering

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January Nature Table

Now that the holidays are over, the kids helped switch the Nature shelf over from “Christmas” to “Late Winter”.  With the change of the seasons, I bring out new objects and the children choose which ones to put up. These little hand-carved camels were a gift from the girls’ preschool teacher, and we cherish them.  They live in the tea cupboard with our best teacups, but George insisted we put them up on the nature shelf, along with a handmade cup his cousins gave to us last year.  We weren’t quite sure how it matched the theme of the season,

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Autumn Nature Table

Hal and George and I sifted through various nature items we’d collected this week and put up the autumn nature table (although, for us, it’s become a shelf, since the “table” has been occupied by Ruth’s budgie, Sunny.) We have a little box of autumnal items we save and put out every year.  Hal really enjoyed taking out things we’d made or found in previous years and remembering how we came to have them. George needs a stool (kid chair) to reach the shelf, but for the first time Hal is tall enough to reach it easily.  It’s hard to

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Eve of Autumn

Today we said goodbye to summer and anticipate the impending arrival of autumn.  It has been warm and sunny during the day, but the crispness of fall has definitely made itself felt in the air. We’ve been pulling out pants (only to discover George has outgrown every pair that fit this spring) and mittens and vests and rain jackets.  The kitchen has been really chilly in the mornings, and it gives me an excuse to bake:  I’ve made bread two days in a row, and have plans to get up before the children to bake banana bread for breakfast tomorrow.

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Collector’s Item

Years ago, my kids crafted their own version of a universal child’s game:  collecting items from nature/the garden, assigning those items special qualities (fairy berries!  war paint!), and selling them in a “store”.  One child (usually the youngest) is “The Collector” and he gathers items to sell to the shop owner, who in turn, markets them to her remaining siblings and friends.  It’s kind-of the ultimate unschool nature table make-believe game. I managed to get a tremendous amount of yardwork done while the kids played, and enjoyed helping George, The Collector, find goodies to bring his siblings. Thimbleberry, grape, and

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Early December Nature Table

  Today it really began to feel like Christmastime in our home: Bea and I converted the nature table  from autumn to Advent. The Nativity figurines were a gift (from France!) and the conifer candle, picked up at the farmer’s market, is made from local beeswax.  The perpetual calendar is from MamaRoots. I potted up a Christmas Cactus cutting from my mother.  Hopefully, by next Christmas it will be in bloom. Ruth and I began decorating our little table-top tree.  (We always get our tree from the L’Arche benefit sale.)  The lights and star go on, and tonight or tomorrow we will string popcorn

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Neighborhood Nature Walk

When the kids have abundant energy, and the weather is unusally dry, it’s time to bundle up and walk to Grandma and Grandpa’s.  The kids brought a basket to collect items for the nature table on their way. We’ve been reading books about Thanksgiving, but also about late-autumn as we prepare to shift into the winter holiday.  The kids were anxious to add items to the nature table while it is still decorated for autumn.  (At the end of the month,  the table shifts over to Advent and Winter decor.) George had more fun jumping in the leaves than collecting

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Homebodies

Autumn is settling in, and we’ve put the feather comforters and extra quilts on the beds.  My ankle hasn’t healed enough to drive yet, so we spend our week keeping busy at home.  Any moment it isn’t raining, we’ve been in the garden. Some images from our quiet week around the house.  Above: Hops, rosemary, and comfrey drying in a sunny window seat. Collecting columbine seeds for Christmas gifts, and a few to sow around the garden. Baking bread.  The kids can eat a loaf every single day, and I certainly don’t mind baking.  This is molasses-shredded wheat bread (my kids

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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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From the Fig Tree

A cascade of very fresh, very ripe figs the kids poured out onto the kitchen table.  They are from a neighbor’s tree.  She doesn’t know the variety (they are actually her next-door neighbors, but a large portion of the immense tree overhangs her driveway, and no one family can consume the vast quantities of fruit. The figs are pale green with a pink flesh, and very soft and sweet.  I think they may be “Desert King”, which does quite well in our climate, and typically produces a large good-quality breba crop (we have a young one in our yard, and

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Outdoors

(Edit:  I realize WordPress is having issues right now – all my photos are loading sideways, and while they look fine on my Dashboard, they appear flipped on their side in the final post.  Working on it!) The past few mornings have felt like September with their crispness, and we’ve started out the day in sweaters.  And yet the afternoons are the best that summer in Oregon has to offer with blue skies and warm breezes.  So, of course we’ve been taking advantage of the gorgeous weather and spending every possible moment outdoors.   Every evening we’ve taken long walks, and

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Alpaca and Social Permaculture

I’m tackling spinning for the Yarn Along this week.   Little by little, I am working my way through a 4 oz bag of first-shearing unwashed alpaca fiber (isn’t the coppery color lovely?).  This buttery soft fiber was a gift from my sister some years ago.  She picked it up from Foothills Fiber in Hood River, OR. Originally, I was going to put this on the wheel, but both sets of bobbins are already full of other fibers, so I’ve been working on a drop spindle.  (I have 6 or so spindles going at any one time, so progress on any

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Christmas Preparations

We’re finally getting the sewing cleared away and readying the dining nook for Christmas dinner. (That big bag of oats will shortly become granola for Christmas gifts. ) And putting out some last-minute decorations… and making our traditional holiday persimmon bundt cake while the boys play with dinosaurs at my feet… and putting out the last few pieces of the children’s new Nativity on my grandma’s marble-top washstand. (As much as I’d love to have a Nativity set like this one or this one, I am really enjoying this budget-friendly set – the children can play with it as much

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Christmas Posey

Our first frost date is October 15, but we have yet to have a hard freeze this year.  Tender plants that are normally wrapped in burlap or provided with wind screens are thriving free in the mild weather. While George was napping, and the big kids were playing quietly inside, I spent a little time working in the yard.  I am grateful for the mild weather, because I hadn’t finished planting garlic (usually completed in October), and the un-frozen ground allowed me to get several rows in and mulched right next to the driveway. Afterward, while picking some Lacinato Kale

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The Tomten and the Fox

Needle felting is one of those crafts we feel drawn toward more in the winter months.  Both of the girls really enjoy making Christmas ornaments and decorations.  Harold is learning to use the needle tool safely, and often prefers playing with the tufts of roving and his older sisters’ finished projects. Astrid Lindgren’s Tomten books are among my favorite winter stories from childhood.  Harold requests we read them (along with Jan Brett’s Hedgie’s Surprise) at least once every day since I added them to the book basket. So, in honor of the the children’s fascination with the little red-hatted caretakers

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December 1

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… One of my favorite parts about getting out the holiday decorations is finding the box of Christmas books, and checking out a big stack of Advent and winter-themed library books.  I keep some of them in a basket, and rotate the selection every few days. This morning we refreshed the greens and candles on the Advent wreath before lighting the second candle tomorrow night. (Yes, this is technically a birthday ring my mom bought me when I was a small child in Germany, but it functions just fine for holding Advent candles,

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On the Oregon Coast

We are home from a weekend yurt getaway to celebrate my husband and our second daughter’s birthdays.  There was a driving rain most of the time, so we skipped the frigid beach in favor of a hike through the woods. Definitely wool skirt, wool socks, heavy shoes kind of hiking weather. As we started out, we came across an open space full of toadstools, most toppled over by the wind (or grouchy gnomes perhaps?). Tucked in under the thick patches of ancient evergreen huckleberries and salal, and sometimes even wandering across the path, were many Rough-skinned newts, with their vibrant

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This Moment

Joining in with Amanda for her Friday link up.

Nature Play and a Lunch Recipe

The past two mornings, the kids and I have worked on harvesting the end-of-summer lavender, which we will use for winter craft projects.  (More on that next time). The lavender plants are all in the front yard, which is unfenced, and we are along a bus line.  Keeping a busy toddler safe and occupied while we work on front yard projects is a must. George was kept very happy by his big sisters, who were dead-heading dahlias for me, and bringing him the spent blossoms to play with.   He had such a grand time shredding the flowers, flinging petals in

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Essentials

For a long time now, our oldest has been interested in the art of massage.  She has made a study of the subject, reading everything she can find on types of massage, anatomy and physiology, physical therapy, and stress relief. Ruth is an intense, and typically high-stress individual (she has been since infancy), and I think she naturally gravitated toward the topic because she herself needs a lot of help with the tension and anxiety of every day living.  This has also made her a very empathetic person in this regard, and frequently asks family members who seem stressed, tired,

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Early September Garden

  Temperatures have been dipping down into the low 50s and high 40s at night, and there’s been a crispness to the air that says Autumn is on her way here.  Many plants are waning, having set seed and beginning to shut down for the year.  So, this afternoon, in the bright sunshine, we cleaned up many, many wheelbarrows full of biomass for the compost.  Cosmos and sunflower stalks have to be chopped into small pieces to break-down well, but the chickens feasted on heads full of sunflower seeds.  Most of the sunflower seeds were set out to dry on

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Late May Garden Update Part I

The garden has really taken off  after a week of hot, sunny weather, followed by lots of rain. (although, the cold nights and wind the past few days haven’t done us any favors).  Volunteers have been able to start taking in a few baskets of organic produce to BCS, mostly radishes, mustard greens, lettuce, chives, tarragon and baby beets, bok choy, and kale.  The teeny harvests thus far just begin to hint at the bounty of the coming months. Between slug-picking and weeding and rain showers, we got a few pictures this morning – (above) The boys in the front

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A Living Hope

Preparing for our celebration of the Resurrection tomorrow: The children’s baskets may be put out awaiting little treats from a certain visitor, but our hearts and minds are fixed the redemptive joy of tomorrow. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. – I Peter 1:3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,

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Why I haven’t been blogging the past week or so

We’re working on a converting our front lawn into veggie beds, and the unseasonably warm and dry weather has helped us get a jump start on sheet mulching.  Goodbye lawn, hello permaculture landscape!  While Tum Tum and I spread cardboard, straw, manure and compost, Little Hen and her Daddy were busy building cold frames out of scrap wood and old windows from the ReStore. (Firecracker was either resting inside, or resting curled up in a nest of blankets on the driveway, since she not only had strep throat, but then a head-to-toe reaction to the amoxicillin meant to cure the

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