Monday, June 21

Summer Solstice

The longest day of the year....hooray for the sun...hooray for summer :)

Today we got into some projects to celebrate the power of the sun...this is sun printing fabric paint. We brushed some sunny colors onto white cotton  and arranged a few flat objects on the fabric, then left it in the sunlight to dry. Wherever the sun touched the fabric, it fixed the pigment...wherever our flat objects blocked the sun's rays, the pigment faded away leaving pale silhouettes on a background of bold color.

They turned out like this...

...and some were used like this...Solstice banners! (That cute little tow-head is one of Toucie's buddies who spent the day with us).

We got the opposite effect when we left colored construction paper out in the sunshine with objects placed on top to block the sun's light...the background faded and the covered areas remained bright.

Mado and I sliced a few lemons and grapefruit and Toucie and her friend laid them out in the sun to dry into perfect solar representations...when they are hanging as a mobile in the sunlight they look like stained glass ornaments.

Then we borrowed some more sunshine to make a gallon jar of minty sun tea...(I am so grateful for ice)

That sun in our sky is one beautiful and powerful thing!
Which is why we headed to the river to cool off around midday  :)

We spent alot of time building bark boats...

amassing a large fleet....

and sailing them downstream and trying to catch them before they slipped away.

A lazy afternoon went by while dinner was prepared: fresh basil pesto with pasta - a salad of tomatoes, basil, sweet onions, and fresh mozzerella - pizza (yellow peppers and onions on split foccaccia bread) -  and a heap of beautiful sausages that Daddy grilled for us. Fresh blackberries for dessert...I love summer!

Mado and Toucie waiting for the dinner bell.

Happy Summer Solstice! (Or Winter for some of you friends out there!) Wherever you are,  I hope your season is full of  joy!

PS) There is a lovely giveaway over at at GreenMomma's blog that is sure to bring joy to any family with a small one! Check it out :)

Sunday, June 20

Happy Fathers' Day!!

Toucie made a little matchbox into a sweet gift for Daddy....

She decorated the outside of the box with crayoned paper and filled the inside with tiny cards. The cards are covered in little loving notes that Toucie dictated and I wrote down for her.

After serving Daddy oatmeal and sausages for breakfast, and showering him with hugs and flowers and the little giftie above, Toucie joined him for a day at the park. By the time they returned I had done the prep work for the special dinner Toucie wanted to serve for Fathers' Day...sushi!

We missed the big sisters...they were away for the week...but that meant alot more California rolls for the rest of us :)

Happy Daddy's Day to this guy...he's good at this job!

Thursday, June 17

Essential Summer... a To-Do list for the happy child

Have you seen this post over at Rae Grant's blog My Little Hen ? I loved and was inspired by it. So much so, in fact, that for days after I read her list, ideas from my own childhood kept popping into my head along with ideas from when my older girls were many other summery ideas that I just had to start another list to augment Rae's. If you have any additional suggestion as to what should be on this list, don't hesitate to share it in the comments! (This means you, too, Naya, Sodie, and Mado!)

-Blow HUGE bubbles (look at Childhood Magic for an awesome post on a giant bubble tool you can make)

-Make lemonade...all different kinds
-Catch a pint of fireflies..and let them go (half the fun is punching holes in the tin lid with a hammer and nail)

-Go caving (or spelunking if you're hard core...its nice and cool in there!)

-Befriend bats (build and hang a bat-house if you can)

-Try out 'sun paint' (we do this around the summer solstice)

-Run through the sprinkler (or make your own Slip-n-slide type thing)

-Pick fruit at a pick-your-own farm (or in the wild!). We pick wild blackberries and farmed blueberries every year...and peaches if we can

-Make jam with some of your fruit to savor in the winter

-Wash the car with a bucket, hose, and sponge

-Press those beautiful leaves and blossoms (that you can't resist picking) in a flower press or a heavy book

-Make ice cream in a crank-handled ice-cream machine... take turns, earn your treat!

-Go to a carnival (overwhelming for littles, but thrilling for not-so-littles)

 -Wade in a creek...catch a frog or crawdad if you dare (I'm a scaredy-cat. I scoop them from behind with a net. Toucie and Mado just bare-hand it.)

-Chase butterflies...maybe identify one or two?

-Make a daisy chain (or clover blossom chain, or black-eyed-susan chain, or...)

-Set up a badminton net for impromptu matches (no need for rules! just bat it back and forth)

-Watch the Perseid meteor shower around Aug.12 (we lay on our trampoline in blankets for this)

-Have a campfire...cook over it...sing around it

-Feed hummingbirds

-Make a birdbath and keep it full of fresh water throughout the summer

-Build or create something that works with solar power (like a thermometer, solar oven, sundial....)

-Eat a big, ripe tomato like an apple

-Kiddie pools (any water vessel, really) + ice cubes = fun....also, water balloons, squirt guns, etc.

-Play horseshoes is a game that spans multiple generations (or even croquet...I never quite get around to croquet...)

I'll keep adding to this as I think of things. What is on your essential to-do list this summer?

Wednesday, June 16


Its hard to be a "locavore" when such summery essentials as lemons are not at the community farmstand. I try, but I make lots and lots of exceptions (life without avocados? no way!). Lemonade = summertime, as far as I'm concerned, so lemons are one of those exceptions. Here is what we did with ours today:

3 large lemons, juiced
1 scant cup of sugar
2 qts. water
a few drops of our secret ingredient:

Orange Blossom Water ( Zharr in arabic...available at Middle Eastern Rose Water)

Saved one of these for sipping from :)

Delightful! We froze some in popsicle molds, too.

When we have more time (patience?), I'd like to try some other variations, like Herbal Lemonade, Ginger Lemonade, or Lavender Lemonade ....mmmmmm!

Saturday, June 12

signs of summer


Naya, Sodie, and Mado, harvesting the lavender.

The bees were working the lavender.

A wonderful harvest! This is only half of it.

Plums are already ripe.

Toucie chewing on sasafrass stems

We're quite enamoured of frogs lately...these tiny guys that appear on the rock banks of our river every summer just thrill me!

Daylillies leaning out towards the big summer sun.

Toucie loves this weedy little Mimosa tree that sprang out of our overgrown fence line. Have you ever smelled the blossoms of the Mimosa? It is a scent-memory from my own childhood...they smell beautiful. Nothing quite like it!

There are so many wildflowers blooming all around right now. I have to pay attention and soak up their cheery prettiness while they are here....our colorful early summers usually give way to hot, droughty, drab green times by late July.
Right now, though, we are happy to see and celebrate all these fresh signs of summer!

Thursday, June 10

Mado and Toucie in an empty lot (Or Formal Nature Study with Kindergartener)

all photos by Mado...great photographer, great sister, great teacher.

Wednesday, June 9

The Renaissance Faire

Our Ren Faire is 25 years old now...we've been loyal patrons since before the girls were born!
Check out this fine fellow:

Friends... that is my husband. on a horse. in shining armour.
Once upon a time, long, long ago, my dear one made his living as a knight...a jouster with The New Riders of the Golden Age. He roamed the country with his comrades, doing a circuit of Renaissance Faires that kept him in the saddle almost year-round.

It is hard to believe that this was almost 20 years ago!!
Here's one more shot, just cause he's so awesome:

As romantic as it is to be married to a knight (in fact, he proposed to me on the jousting field and we were married in the castle on these very grounds), I am very happy to say that he has long since discovered a new vocation (he's a massage therapist...I know, I know!!!) and leaves the clashing and bashing to others. Like these guys that we cheered at this most recent Faire:


Here are some swashbuckling pirate lassies that belong to me :)

...and this little Cobweb Fairy is mine, too! Can you see the hatted lady playing the hurdy-gurdy in the background? The music was so lively and engaging that we couldn't pry this dancing fairy away for some time.

Sodie and Toucie chatting up the queen.

The King of Trolls...Toucie loved him from afar, but up close?...Well, that's different! (I wish I had gotten his feet in the picture...they were about 20 inches long!)

There is a fabulous Birds of Prey show with a master falconer that Toucie is just now old enough to be fascinated by. After the show she got to go down to visit the falconer and her parrot.

Next year I'll try to take more photos of the Faire truly is transporting to step into this festive, wooded fairground inhabited by hundreds of folks in period costumes all hawking curious wares, tasty foods, or riotous entertainment. It is a very satisfying family tradition to attend each year...for us, it heralds the official entry into summer. Let the summer begin!