Saturday, January 29

Anticipating Imbolc...

This year our celebrations seem to be  much more focused on what is happening on the land around us at this festival time...and less about the feast of Brigid and the tradition of candle dipping. Some years festivals just seem to have a life of their own! I've learned that its best to go with it :)

What we've been experiencing outdoors is a lot of cold, gray, wet, mossy days intermingled with a happy handful of frosty, sugary, snowy, white days all winter long. But lately we've been sensing something different in the air....we can tell that the land is waking...we call it the "stirring of the seeds" (a perfect phrase gleaned years ago from this book). This, to me, is the essence of Imbolc/Candlemas season.

Anxious to see signs of this "stirring" that we knew must be going on under our very feet, we engineered some visible signs of our own:
planting bean, corn & melon seeds in a bag 

taping it to a sunny window

We learned this trick here

starting some seeds for the garden

broccoli seeds...the tiniest seed babies ever!

sweet potato

"Bottle Acorns"- learned from these great chapter books

Now we watch and wait....

Thursday, January 27

Tuesday, January 25


The earth has turned round once again!
One year ago today, I celebrated my 41st birthday by beginning this blog.
Inspired by other bloggers, I created a fun list of goals for my 42nd year...and I actually went a long way towards accomplishing them! There were 13 goals that I didn't quite make good on.
So, I'm giving it another go...43 goals for my 43rd year. (Including the 13 "leftovers" from last year...I really want to do them!)

1. Knit a garment
2. Sew a beautiful skirt for every day of the week
3. Plant a big batch of bulbs in secret this autumn to surprise my girls in spring
4. Write love notes
5. Volunteer at our local Waldorf school
6. Do more crossword puzzles with Mado
7. Live out on the deck more
8. Grow a garden with enough to preserve
9. Grow a garden just for the birds
10. Go camping
11. Transform an entire wool fleece into usable/wearable art
12. Learn (and write down) the recipes for all my favorite foods made by Mom and Dad
13. Make a family cookbook for the girls
14. Make a steampunk costume
15. Speak French every day
16. Knit or sew for charity
17. Have a taffy pull
18. Learn how to crochet
19. Teach Toucie knock-knock jokes
20. Visit the Hindu temple
21. Join the local home-schoolers' handwork group
22. Have more date nights
23. Make handmade birthday and yule gifts for all my great-nieces
24. Throw a surprise party
25. Redo the bathroom with fresh colors
26. Talk Grandma into helping me with the family tree
27. Brew beer all on my own
28. Make an effort to cultivate relationships with other home-schoolers
29. Write letters to old friends...try to stay in touch
30. Help Toucie find a penpal
31. Grow a pumpkin patch and host a pumpkin-carving party at Halloween
32. Breathe deeply
33. Start beekeeping with my mom
34. Knit a blanket
35. Experiment with the Etsy shop
36. Sing more
37. Cook with Mado
38. Practice yoga more regularly
39. Build an outdoor oven
40. Learn to play the tin whistle
41. Join the fiber guild
42. Learn to spin
43. Laugh every day

Thursday, January 20

Most successful "soaked" bread recipe yet!

I can't believe I made this in my own looks like it came from a wood-fired oven in a small, rustic, European village. This is my latest attempt in baking homemade bread that uses soaked dough (to fall more closely in alignment with the principals of a traditional foods diet...or Nourishing Traditions fare).

In this recipe, 4 ingredients are thrown together in a bowl, covered, and left to rise overnight (12 - 20 hours). The next day, the dough is shaped into a ball, left to "nap" for another 2 hours, then baked in a covered dutch oven. There is no kneading...very little hands-on at all, in fact. I highly, highly recommend giving it a go...the recipe is here at Steamy Kitchen.

Wednesday, January 19

Winter Color...

We've been fortunate this winter with more snowy days than I can remember having in many years. But now that the snow has melted away, we find ourselves immersed once again in the muted, gray-brown landscape that signifies winter in this part of Tennessee.

On our walk in the park today, Toucie and I kept a sharp lookout for other winter color. Here is our gallery (starting with our own garish raingear!)  :)

Tuesday, January 18

The Tooth Fairy pays another visit...

Toucie was hoping for a ruby to appear (!!??!!), but when she found a new seed pearl in the pocket of her pillowcase, she began to see the trend. 

Extra bonus gift she's discovered with the loss of this tooth: she can whistle through the gap...nice touch, Tooth Fairy!

Monday, January 17

Wintry book basket...

Warm, cozy moments curled up with good books seem to be the order of the day around here. Here are some well-loved titles from our kindergarten book basket right now.

Ola, by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'aulaire

This thrift store find is a treasure trove of Norwegian culture. Our copy is from 1934...I beleive the first edition is 1932, so that gives you some idea about the tone of this book; it is not only from another land, but another time. Ola lives on a mountain so far north that "the sun is afraid to show his pale face in the winter". He wakes up to the flair of the Northern Lights and sets out on his skis for an adventure one morning.

The story takes him down the mountain, to a wedding at a farm, to the company of a traveling peddler, to a visit with Lapplanders and their herd of reindeer, to a fishing village where he hears strange tales of the ocean, to an island where eiderducks nest, and on and on! The story ends with Ola heading home laden with riches from his travels. The drawings are amazing.

Winter Poems , illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Ok...Does it even matter what the text of a book is if the illustrations are by Trina Schart Hyman? I am a huge fan of A Child's Calendar and was so delighted to see the same family of characters appear in Winter Poems . It is explains in the front pages of the book that the illustrations are based on real people, places & things: the mother, father, and children depicted are Trina Schart's daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons! The poems, selected by Barbara Rogasky, are not the usual juvenile fare...these are wonderful, evocative, valid pieces. Toucie loves "The Germ" by Ogden Nash and the conversation between a mistress and her cat in "Cat on a Night of Snow" by Elizabeth Coatsworth. We have used other poems from this book as our inspiration for our winter watercolor paintings.

Winter , by Gerda Muller

This is a Waldorf staple...most likely you have seen this before, but I can't help singing its praises again and again. This is a board book that is part of a 4-book series - one for each season. The images within are so charming, wholesome, inspiring, and engaging...these books have fascinated Toucie for all her life so far! (I began sharing them with her when she was 9 months old). I have seen a volume that combines all 4 books, titled Circle of Seasons and I do not recommend re-arranges the illustrations and adds text which completely ruins the special nature of these books, in my opinion. Their wordless full-spread pages are precisely what make them so magical. I think every household with children should have these books.

Winter Days in the Big Woods , adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sweet, old fashioned, and prettily illustrated in the style of Garth Williams. I enjoy sharing these "My First Little House Books" with Toucie as a way to help me be patient until the time is right to launch into the Little House chapter books...I am chomping at the bit to bring to her some of that experience which was so delightful to me as a child.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening , Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers

One thing I love about Waldorf education is the presence of recitation in the curriculum. Mado, in 3rd grade, recited the 94 line extract, Hiawatha's Childhood,  from Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha. I suspect that the repeated readings of this winter poem by Frost, with the stunning and supportive illustrations by Jeffers, will soak into Toucie's memory and that one day she will realize she can recite it to herself (that is what happened to me over the course of the years reading it to her!) To have poems that imprint themselves on one's heart is pure joy to me.

Anna and the Flowers of Winter , by Nettie Lowenstein

A softly illustrated fairy tale...very much along the lines of Mother Holle. A mistreated stepdaughter is sent out in the dead of winter to bring back violets by the order of the haughty stepsister. In despair at the impossibility if the task, she stumbles through the snowy woods and encounters 12 strange figures. These turn out to be the months of the year and they help her with her dilemma. Upon her return home, the stepmother and stepsister become greedy for other things and set out to find the 12 strange figures. Of course they get what is coming to them and the young stepdaughter is rewarded for her goodness.

Annie and the Wild Animals , by Jan Brett

My copy of this book is autographed by Ms. Brett and was a gift from my mama in 1985 when i was still in high school...its been a long love affair that I've had with this one! I try to reserve it until the very end of is perfect for Imbolc/Candlemas season as it reflects the thawing of winter and the promise of spring. Annie's cat disappears and, in an effort to attract a new pet, she begins baking corn cakes for the animals in the frozen, snowy forest. She attracts all kinds of hungry creatures, none of which are quite the right fit, and then runs out of corn. Luckily, the seasons begin to turn and nature puts everything right again. Lots and lots to look at in Jan Brett's gorgeous illustrations.