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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Early September in the Garden/ Transitions

Well, the photo editor/uploader issues with WordPress haven’t been fixed yet, but I’m going to try and get a few images to upload for this post.  I wish the uploader would cooperate, and I could share photos of all the garden is producing – Sunchokes 10 feet fall, baskets (and bellies) full of “Fall Gold” raspberries, ducks laying pale green eggs every day, broody chickens, yarrow and salvia and dahlias splashing every corner with color… I love the transition of early September, when we are just beginning to be weary of summer, but not quite ready for the dreariness that

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(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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L’Arche Christmas Tree

  Each year, we visit the same tree lot to pick up a little table-top Christmas tree which will sit in the window seat.  It is a tradition we really enjoy, and we’re thankful to be able to support L’Arche in our small way. L’Arche, is a wonderful organization that serves adults with disabilities in many communities.  From the Portland chapter’s website: At L’Arche Portland people with and without developmental disabilities work together to create home and build community. Those with developmental disabilities form the heart of our shared life and invite others into mutual relationships. We welcome each person’s

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King Tut

The girls and their auntie are up in Seattle for a few days.  The ancient Egypt obsession runs pretty deep in this family, and Bea and Ruth had a blast getting to visit the King Tut exhibit today. (A painting Ruth, age nine, did right before the trip) Some of our favorite Ancient Egypt resources: The British Museum’s website David Macaulay’s Pyramid The Silver Pharaoh Coloring motifs Exploring Ancient Egypt Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors Hieroglyphic Typewriter

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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Swift Watch 2012

So, I’ve come to realize that blogging, even sporadically and ineptly, is really difficult with four busy kids, and a very busy life.  I cannot figure out how to do it without taking time away from the children, or my precious few hours of sleep. (The farm’s FB page is equally neglected lately.) This morning, I sacrificed the latter, getting up long before the children, finishing poultry chores, tidied and swept the downstairs, and folded a basket of laundry before sitting down to a mug of coffee and my laptop.  So, hopefully there will be a few posts up this

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Cider Pressing

Some pictures from the cider pressing party last weekend.  It was also my husband’s birthday – I’m so glad he had a great time! (We all did!) Most folks brought apples from their own trees and also gleaned many from abandoned orchards along country roads. Apples were washed, wormy parts and bruises removed, and then cut in half or quarters to fit into the grinder. Ground apples in one of the two presses on site. Little Hen was strong enough to crank the smaller press. (The electric grinder is the wooden box behind her on the back end of the

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Paper crafting – freestyle

The past month has left me feeling stretched pretty thin because of obligations and responsibilities to my family and others.     Tackling domestic duties and  “home schooling” the girls while my non-stop motion toddler “explores” the house into a distaster zone has also been a challenge.  Crafting has been particularly tricky – Tum Tum either attempt to eat or destroy anything the girls are working on – and he’s especially good at climbing up on the kitchen table and flinging art supplies across the room in a lightning flash. This day, he took a nice long nap after lunch, so as

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World Forestry Center

Over the weekend, we took advantage of the Smithsonian’s annual free pass day to visit the World Forestry Center, located right across from the Oregon Zoo.  The building is light and open, and the exhibits are well designed, educational, and attractive to children. There were displays appealing to many senses – here Firecracker is smelling the oils from different culinary trees and trying to guess their origin.   Euclayptus had her stumped – she said it smelled like “Burt’s Bees something…but that’s not quite right.” Little Hen played the tongue drums for a LONG time – and has been reminding me

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Vaux’s Swifts

Kortney at One Deep Drawer told me about the congregation of Vaux’s swifts in NW Portland, and this week we made it over to the Chapman School to see them.   For a bird nerd like me, it was a huge thrill. We set up early, with hundreds of other families, enjoying our picnic dinner (homemade hummus, Greek yogurt, tomatoes, flatbread, pear sauce), and reading books until the sun began to set. The school had some well-made signs up about swifts – with sections at the bottom geared for children.  One sign suggested we try  tracking one swift in the sky

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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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Bartlett Harvest

Saturday,  I was blessed with the opportunity to ride with another family of volunteers out to Mosier, OR (in the beautiful Columbia Gorge) to glean pears for Birch Community Services.   The weather was very rainy, windy, and chilly, so I was grateful that the children could all stay home, snuggled up reading their latest chapter book with Daddy. The five of us wore large canvas pear-picking bags, and picked 40-50 lbs of Bartletts off of the trees at a time and then unloaded them into large crates.  Due to the windy, rainy conditions, I didn’t get any pictures of the

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Day hike

Some pictures from our nature hike at Mt. Tabor Park (which is fast becoming our favorite day hike – right in the middle of the city, great hills, great hiking, lots of nature to examine and exlpore!).   Check out those helicopters! Firecracker stood for a long time and watched the water pouring in at the reservoir. Little Hen picked me a bouquet of wild pea blossoms.  Sweet girl. Firecracker got pretty tuckered out in the middle, so it was Daddy to the rescue! Stop in at The Magic Onions for more Friday Nature Table sharing.  Follow some other families on

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We took the children for a quick visit to the Oregon  Zoo (the best part of having a pass, in my opinion, is that you can pop in for an hour or two and just see a few things, so the children don’t get maxed-out).  This visit, we decided to go with a bird theme (surprise, surprise). Tum Tum signed “bird”  and said “cheep cheep” pretty much non-stop the entire morning.  🙂 We saw the penguins and the African bird aviary, but by far, the kids’ favorite stop was the Lorikeet exhibit. I hope these last days of summer provide

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County Fair

Last week we traveled north to Ridgefield, WA for the Clark County Fair.   The kids’ aunt and uncle, niece, grandparents, and great-grandparents met us there for an afternoon full of livestock viewing, carnival rides, and ridiculously unhealthy food. All of the kids enjoyed the hula-hooping contest, and my niece (with the white ribbon in her hair) took first place! And of course, we had to have a little fair food – this is a deep-fried Snickers.  So deadly. We spent a long time in the poultry barn – I kept having to bend down so Tum Tum could get a

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Orange Julius Recipe

To make this  refreshing, healthy summertime snack , you will first need 4 medium oranges.   Give them to the kids and let them roll the oranges around on the counter and between their hands to prep them for juicing. Juice the oranges (you should get about 1 cup of orange juice).  If little hands are helping, I always put down a kitchen towel – juicing oranges is a messy task for a 4 year-old (or a 30 year-old, for that matter!) If you like, throw in a chopped peach or a handful of strawberries or a mango for another

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Morning on the Farm

Some more shots from yesterday’s trip to Sauvie Island Farms. Little Hen in the raspberry canes, where we found an old abandoned nest, lined with feathers and seed fluff. Firecracker helped her auntie pick blueberries. And the flowers were absolutely stunning. The biggest surprise of the day was finding a nest with four baby birds in the middle of the marionberry canes.  They sat very still as we observed them.  It was a real treat – the nestlings were clearly Cedar Waxings (the black face mask and yellow band on the tail were telling signs), which are one of my

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The peaches are ripe on Sauvie Island!!!!  We took advantage of the cool weather this morning (65!!) and went to pick some with my sister. The farm was lovely, as usual, and the picking easy (I love how so many of the branches are very low, so the children can pick easily).  Little Hen tripped and hurt her leg right at the end, which put a damper on things, but Auntie Jen took us all to Hot Lips Pizza (everyone’s favorite!) for lunch afterward, so the trip ended with lots of smiles.  🙂 And 57 lbs of beautiful ripe peaches

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Magic Potion

At day camp this week, Little Hen made a magic potion, which she has been applying on everyone – to cure anything from splinters to a grouchy mood.  She loves bestowing “goodness” on everyone. Here’s her recipe as she dictates it to me ( how she remembers it from camp) Magic Potion Recipe by Little Hen 24 handfuls of shredded beeswax a medium sized jar of canola or olive oil (not sure which) a whole boquet of flowers (such as roses, clover flowers, and every type of flower you can think of) Directions – First, take some flower petals and

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Some Waldorf Magic

Little Hen has been at Waldorf Art Day Camp (and thus immersed in magical-make-believe) for the past two weeks, .  Her sister misses her terribly while she’s gone (“Is it time to pick up sissy yet?  Is it time to pick up sissy yet???”), but we’ve been trying to do something special in the mornings – just Firecracker and me (and sometimes the baby in the backpack)  – a trip to the coffee shop for steamers, a visit to the craft store, a walk to the park, making brownies, that kind of thing. So, here’s some of what my artistic

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Songs for Saplings

Songs for Saplings have kicked off their US/Africa tour!! It was quite a thrill to see Dana in concert! Don’t miss the chance to catch one of Dana’s free concerts before she heads off to Malawi!

Sauvie Island Strawberries

Pictures from our weekend outing to Sauvie Island Farms.  We picked over twenty pounds of strawberries – we ate as many as we could fresh, baked a few cakes (subbing-in whole wheat for half the flour), then put enough in the freezer for two batches of jam and lots and lots of smoothies, pies, and other goodies. There couldn’t be a better way to spend a Saturday morning – picking strawberries with friends, and anticipating all of the good things to make from the harvest.  I love these early summer weekends! We’ll be back at Sauvie Island in July to

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Spring-into-Summer Nature Table

While not technically summer, the very warm, sunny weather of late has been pointing us in that direction.  The girls and I have cleared away the spring table and begun to gather items for our summer table.  It’s just beginning to take shape – rocks from a nature hike, sweet alyssum from the yard, beeswax flowers Little Hen made, some shells from the beach… We are looking forward to seeing it grow and change as the summer progresses, and also seeing and drawing inspiration from other families’ nature tables. Some blog and flickr posts that showcase nature tables -  Chickadee

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Farmer’s Market

Saturday’s ten-block walk to the Farmer’s Market in the blissful sunshine.   I think it will become a weekly ritual.  We even got to watch the high school marching band rehearsing as they marched around the market.  It was a big thrill for the girls. Yay for Farmer’s Market season!!!

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