Wednesday, September 29

Michaelmas moments...

michaelmas daisies

mado's faraway kite


toucie's kite

dragon-roasted sausages

catch a falling leaf for good luck all year!

Happy Michaelmas...strength and courage to us all!

Michaelmas watercolor....Dragon painting!

The sun rises high (paint a rich yellow sun. rinse brush)
In an indigo sky. (paint a rich blue sky. rinse brush)
A sunbeam streaks by (dip brush in yellow and drag through the blue sky into the yellow sun)
So a dragon can fly! (refine your streak into a dragon shape...the green will appear as you stroke the brush from the blue sky into the yellow sun and back)

Michaelmas baking....Dragon Bread!

Baking Dragon Bread might be my favorite Michaelmas activity. We tell a story of St. Michael subduing the dragon and we use the bread ingredients as story is like an edible puppet show! The inspiration for our story comes from the book All Year Round . If all the ingredients are measured and assembled in advance, the telling of the tale goes very smoothly as the dough takes form in the hands.

The story outline (again, this is adapted from All Year Round) begins with a small and prosperous land with lovely hills, valleys, forests,  mountains and happy, hard-working people (sculpt this landscape in the big bowl of flour making a valley in the center).

Then one day a dragon came, foaming and writhing, to lay waste to the land and left it barren (pour the yeasty warm milk in the "valley" and begin stirring to "lay waste" to the landscape)

Darkness came along with freezing ice (throw the salt and sugar down onto the "land") and the people, once happy and so full of light, became unable to work or even smile. (stir and stir to mix the dough).

The angel Michael looked down one day and saw this dark and dismal land and his heart was full of compassion for the people. With one hand he reached for a handful of stars and scattered them on the earth below. (add golden raisins)

With the other hand he took gold from the sun and sent it down upon the land as well. (add egg yolk)

The people were warmed by the stars and the sun and they began to work (mix dough with hands).

The farmers ploughed the land again and sowed their seeds (add sunflower seeds, continue mixing) and soon the crops began to grow.

Michael came to the people and told them to be brave and  work hard, to harvest their grain when it was ripe, and to grind it into flour. He told them to knead the flour into dough and bake it into bread, then to share that bread with all...for "each slice that is cut in friendship will warm your hearts and each piece that is eaten will give strength and power to overcome the dragon"  (knead)

The people did as Michael told them and, because of their hard-work and bravery,were blessed with prosperity once again. They sang a blessing as they shared their bread. (knead!)

The blessing we use is:

Earth who gives to us this food,
Sun who makes it ripe and good,
Dear Sun, dear Earth, by you we live -
Many thanks to you we give.
Thank you

Toucie made Michael with her half of the dough...

...I made the Dragon with my bit of dough.

We thought the results were great :)

Yummy, too...Dragon tail, anyone?



6 c flour (we used white whole wheat)
2 c warm milk
1 tsp. raw sugar
5 tsp. dry yeast
1/4 c melted butter
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 c raw sugar
1/2 c golden raisins (or more! you could use dried apricots or even cheddar cheese for a savory bread)
1 egg yolk
1/4 c sunflower seeds (or more! also, you can use pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or sesame)

-Measure the flour into a big mixing bowl. Set this aside.
-Dissolve the teaspoon of sugar and the yeast into the warm milk. When it is frothy, stir the butter in as well. Set this aside.
-Place the sugar and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.
-Place the raisins, egg yolk and seeds each in their own small bowl. Set these aside.

-Arrange all the small bowls near the big mixing bowl of flour, light a candle and begin the story.
-At the end of the story, the dough is ready for its first rising...cover it with a damp cloth and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour.
-Punch it down, shape it (on a baking sheet) and leave it to rise again (about 30 minutes)
-Bake at 375 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes to an hour depending on how you divided up the dough (several small loaves or one huge one?) Bread is done when you tap the underside and hear a hollow sound.

Michael defeats the Dragon (yikes! Waldorf action figures??!!)

Sunday, September 26

Michaelmas Circle

For the week before and the week after Michaelmas (September 29), we'll be having a fresh new circletime full of new songs and verses. Here is what we've been doing :

(singing joyfully!)

The autumn winds blow open the gate!
Oh, Michael, for you we wait.
We follow you, show us the way.
With joy we greet the autumn day,
Good morning! Good morning!
-remembered by Mado from Waldorf School

(begin marching around the circle- marching, tap each knee with opp. hand – build the volume and power) 
Brave and bold will I be
Golden light shines bright in me 
-adapted from Marsha Johnson

(Let us ride out on a journey! (galloping)
We’ve come to a great river!)

(move around the circle to the rhythm of the verse: long stride, long stride, step, step, step:)
Stepping over stepping stones, 1, 2, 3.
Stepping over stepping stones, come with me.
The river’s very fast and the river’s very wide,
So we’ll step across the stepping stones
To reach the other side.
-from A Child’s Seasonal Treasury

(Oh…the land here is ruined! There must be a wicked sort of dragon about!)

(sink down to the ground to crawl on belly, using elbows and knees to creep like a lizard while reciting: )
The dragon in the summer sleeps.
When autumn comes, the dragon creeps.
He slinks along on belly low,
Searching for the village glow
-adapted from Marsha Johnson

(using stuffed dragons:)
Front and back, front and back
Around me the dragon does fly!
Up on top, up on top,
From the sky the dragon dives!
-adapted from Marsha Johnson

Fierce and fiery dragon
(lap, clap, lap, clap)
Coming into sight
(together, together, together)
Blowing golden sparkles
(lap, clap, lap, clap)
Lighting up the night!
(together, together, together)
Left right left right
(marching left, right…)
Dragon glowing in the night!
(together, together, together)
Left right left right
(marching left, right…)
Doesn’t see the golden knight!
(together, together, together)
-adapted from Marsha Johnson

(repeat rhythmically several times: )
Michael, lumiere du ciel,
Donne nous force et courage
-adapted from  " Receuil de poemes..."

(triumphantly : )
In golden cloak he comes along
His face like the sun so bright.
Michael defeats the dragon
Michael defeats the dragon
Michael defeats the dragon
Bringing peace and light!
-adapted from Marsha Johnson

(and now that all is well here, we can return to our own land…)

(move around the circle to the rhythm of the verse: long stride, long stride, step, step, step)
Stepping over stepping stones, 1, 2, 3.
Stepping over stepping stones, come with me.
The river’s very fast and the river’s very wide,
So we’ll step across the stepping stones
To reach the other side.
-from A Child’s Seasonal Treasury

(holding hands in center of circle and throwing them up at the end: )
Gather near courageous one-
Now our circle is all done!
Dragons, knights and angels, too
Fill our hearts now we are through!
-adapted from Marsha Johnson

Michaelmas handwork....Cape of Light!

The goldenrod dye we made for our Shooting Stars was still quite strong so we saved it to dye a silk. In celebration of Michaelmas, we are using this silk as a cape and calling it the Cape of Light just like the golden cloak that Michael wears. (Inspired by this Michaelmas article.)

Take a plain silk playcloth, soak it in mordant (2 - 3 Tbs.alum dissolved into a 1/2 gallon of water), immerse it in the dye, hang to dry, wear with pride. There is not much to this project....the magic is really in the details: telling Michael stories and singing songs; being in the outdoors working together, gathering dyestuffs and preparing the dye; watching the simple transformation when flower blossoms turn a white silk into a golden one; letting the imagination run when the cape is ready to be worn and paraded about!

Saturday, September 25

Autumn, good morning.... Summer, good night

(pears! plus a visit from Naya and Sodie)


(wild grapes)

(whatever these are, they sure are pretty)


Michaelmas handwork...shooting stars!

We loosely followed the recommendations in this article to create our own Shooting Stars this week for Handwork.

 The first job at hand was to prepare some dye. Toucie gathered goldenrod which is very abundant around our home right now.

In an old stockpot, we covered Toucie's goldenrod (she had filled about half the pot with flowers) with water and let it simmer all day long . Then we packed our supplies and a picnic and headed to one of our creek hangouts to do our work.

First we hunted for the perfect rocks in the creekbed. These add heft to the finished toy so that when you throw it into the air it is heavy enough to fly high.

Its suggested that the rocks be rounded and about the size of a cherry...these are a tad large, but they will do!

So here are our assembled materials: stones, wool roving, and a jar of hot water with a squirt of dishsoap in it.

We began wrapping the stones tightly in wool roving, building up to a nice tennis ball or orange sized sphere.

As this is an almost fool-proof craft, I let Toucie work on her own...

 do her best work.

Here's mine...a bit neater that Toucie's, but you'll soon see that it makes no difference.

Next we saturated the wool balls with hot, soapy water from our jar and began gently squeezing and rolling them in our hands...this is called felting.

To break up the monotony (because you need to work for a while to felt this into a nice tight ball), Toucie and I traded our balls back and forth, working on our own and each others' .  This is where our balls began to look very similar to each other...when we were done, the only way to tell the difference was that mine was larger (I'd used one of the big rocks!).

Then it was time to give them a good rinse and take them home. I soaked them in alum-water overnight to prepare them for dyeing.

The next day, into the strained goldenrod dye they went! Then out again (after about 30 minutes) to dry overnight. We saved the dye for another project.

Once the balls were dry, I tacked on ribbon tails, and they were ready to go.

We've been having fun with them ever since!

Thursday, September 23

It's the Equinox, the moon is full...and Mado is 17!!!!

(a birthday pie!)

(beautiful moon)

(Our first Autumn fire)

(Pomegranates...part of our Autumn Equinox tradition of telling Persephone and Demeter's story)

(a new baby cousin born on Mado's birthday!)

(our gnomes storing their harvest for the winter)

Happy birthday to my Mado...happy Autumn to us all!