Sunday, February 28

Full moon

One of the ways in which we mark and honor the turning of the year is to celebrate when the moon is full.
There is a certain magic to being outdoors in the dark of night...for kids and grownups alike. What in the daylight is a mundane and familiar backyard becomes a place of mystery at night, under the moon.


Do you know this lovely round?

round and round the earth is turning
turning ever round 'til morning
then from morning round 'til night

(I learned it with my children at a Waldorf school, so while I'm sure it shows up in a book somewhere, written by someone, I don't know to whom the credit goes...but I love the song and the sentiment.)
Watching the moon wax and wane and come into fullness in rhythmic cycles is another way to be mindful of our connection to this earth we live on. I want that connection to be palpable for my children...I want them to feel that bond as a stabilizing force in their lives.


Last month when the moon was full, our fields were covered in 6 inches of snow and we spent the night sledding in the dark. Tonight we went out into the cold and built a bonfire...someone (more than one!) sneaked off to build this fairy house:
I am keen on checking it out more fully tomorrow in the sunshine.

We sipped hot lemonade and had a festive meal of sauerkraut, frankfurters, potatoes, and applesauce.

 Mado played the harmonica (she can play anything...gah)

So, her trusty (and imitative) little sidekick ran to fetch her ocarina.

There is no ritual or ceremony involved formal verse or incantation.

Just us, outside under the sky, again, just like we were 28 days ago....and 28 days before that.
Just us, feeling a little awe at the dark magic of night.

Saturday, February 27

The sap is running...Sweet!

Do you know this book

It is a pretty picture book by Connie Brummel Crook, illustrated by Scott Cameron, that tells a story of a native child and the discovery of maple syrup. The child observes a squirrel drinking the sap of a tree and the story develops from there. It is a lovely thing to think about at this time of year, here in my corner of the world, as the season turns towards spring.

Today was the first warm day after many cold nights and my family noticed drops of sap running down the windshield of our car. (we park under a maple tree). 

...out came the tools.... went the spiles...

...and up went the pails. 

You can see that our pails are dinky ... we do not have a serious sugaring operation going on here. Did you know that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup? To make 1 cup of syrup, you'd need more than 2 gallons of sap. It really makes you appreciate the stuff, doesn't it?

We only have one big maple tree. When the pails are full, we will empty them into our crockpot and let it cook all day with the lid off. It will result in about one pancake breakfast's worth of syrup. But it is worthwhile just to underscore the connection between us and the land we live on. Eating a ripe tomato from our own garden, dyeing wool with weeds from our own backyard, or picking an apple from our own tree connects us to the earth -our own special plot of earth- in the same way. 

It feels good to keep that connection alive.

Thursday, February 25

Crafting away our cabin fever...

After the tease of a beautiful sunny weekend, our temperatures have dropped again into the 20's (F). While we are troopers in the Waldorf style, and venture out in all kinds of weather, the hours we spend outdoors on cold days are much fewer than the ones we spend out on fair days, for certain.

So, driven indoors, yearning to be out and for spring to speed to our door, we have needed to find inspired ways to wait out these last dregs of winter weather. Handwork is our friend. And so are other folks who like to make lovely things.

Here are the petals from our Valentine's Day roses.

Here is Toucie threading them onto a length of wire.

Here is an idea of what the process looks like...slow results...stick with it, Touce!

And here is the fruit of all that persistence.  

A happy hour spent sifting fingers through soft and fragrant rose petals, building on the ability to persevere, developing the strength in little hands, and feeling pleasure and pride at producing a worthwhile creation...a gift to entice Spring to hurry to us. 

Perhaps this happy hour, and the many others we spend like this, are Winter's last gifts to us.

Sunday, February 21

Spontaneous butter

This morning as Toucie and I were creeping around the kitchen still in our nightgowns, she asked, "Why does butter taste so good?". Ah, yes! I thought to easy question to answer (you may know that 4 year olds are notorious for asking some of the most difficult questions in the world). The easy answer is that butter is delicious because its made out of delicious things: cream and sometimes salt (2 of my personal faves).

We happened to have on hand some good cream from our Valentine's Day fondue-making, so I took advantage of the educational opportunity and set Toucie up to make a wee batch of butter for herself.

all you need is to put some cream into a clean jar with a clean marble

then you seal it up tightly and shake it for all you're worth!

after 10 minutes of taking turns with the shaking we had this

it is soft, fluffy butter...not solid. I've heard people call it fairy butter or angel butter.

we stirred in a bit of salt and  had it on toasted rosemary rolls for breakfast

here is my prized, but dusty Daisy churn...if ever again I have access to fresh raw milk and cream...

Saturday, February 20

By the water

Some of the happiest days Toucie and I spend together are spent the water. When I need to get her moving and working on all those gross motor skills I say, "Let's go for a hike!". The suggestion is always greeted with enthusiasm. We live a stones throw from the Harpeth river and visit it often - almost daily in fair weather - even in the cold seasons we go to see what the water is doing.

today the water was sparkling in the sun....ahhh sun!

see the river rushing in the background and the calm shallows in the fore?

the shallows are a wonderful place to play

lots of treasure to discover (this is a freshwater mussel shell)

you never know who else will be there enjoying the sunshine

today we practiced casting with the rod Toucie received for Christmas

cultivating patience

I took a photo of her....

...and she took one of me! Hmm...distracted by the allure of a snack?

Ha! There I am....
Hope you all are finding Spring to be soon within reach.

Friday, February 19

What if your backyard looked like this?

Father Sun came out today and warmed our cheeks...we were very happy to march straight to the park and spend some good quality time with know, just in case this turns out to be one of his short visits.

Toucie and I are seasoned park-hoppers. We have about a dozen parks near our home base that we love to visit. Today we spent over 6 hours at Warner Park. This is a huge park (2684 acres) with tons of trails and playgrounds and lovely spots to offer, but I just wanted to share with you this amazing children's play area. No jungle gyms or swings or seesaws...just piles of dirt, heaps of sand, water spigots here and there, stumps, and is alot like my dream playground :)

shelves full of cups and bowls for sand/dirt/mud play

I play on these more than she does...I must have been a child in another life...

totally going to build one of these this year

this is the sand pit. there is a spigot in that pile of rocks at the bottom right. awesome.

the ultimate balance beam
I didn't get a photo of the big dirt pile. It is probably about 10 feet tall and it has a slide down one side. I think that dirt hill is what gets the most action and it is about the simplest thing here...just a heap of dirt! Genius.

And here's what I snuck in while Toucie was mucking about...good stuff.

Wednesday, February 17

Looking for Spring...

Today dawned with a clear sky and the snow has almost completely gone. Toucie and I headed for one of our favorite parks, Bicentennial Mall. It is in the heart of downtown Nashville, just a couple of blocks from the twins' highschool...a very urban park, to be sure, but we found Lady Spring peeping out at us from every corner!

Valentine's Day

We spent a beautiful day celebrating "lovingness" , as Toucie calls it. There was crafting and baking, and gifting, and eating, and dancing, and everything else we could fit in.

Toucie and I baked a cake for breakfast.

As soon as the crumbs were cleared, we sat down to work on some pretty gifties for each other. 
Our Candlemas hyacinth centerpiece had started fading a tiny bit, so we cropped the flowers and Toucie spent a happy hour plucking off the individual blooms and stringing them into lovely adornments:

Even I was the happy recipient of one of the flower strands!
I  found time to put the finishing touches on the flannel quilt I'd been working on (#7 on my list!), so that became my Valentine to all the girls:


Two of my girls had dates...look at these awesome socks:

But by dinnertime, we were all back together again. We have a family tradition of preparing fondue for Valentine's Day dinner. This year it was a cheddar fondue with a milk chocolate fondue for dessert...mmmm!

Dinner gave way to dancing:

...and  some acrobatics that defied capture on film. Hope you all had a lovely day, too!