Well, it's been quite a summer. So fast, yet so full of visits and activities. And now with big changes! We had incredibly pleasant weather here, with the least mosquitos ever! (Very nice after last summer which had the most mosquitos ever.) Our trip out east was a little too long but nonetheless lovely, especially our visit to Bethany Beach. We were fortunate to have a house near the (rather tiny) State Park in an area that was a bit of a respite from the generally crowded, over-developted mid-atlantic beaches. I must admit this summer was such a blur, I ended up putting my blog on indefinite hold. Sorry to those of you who were checking in when I was checking out. Now we are in a bit of a limbo here as we prepare for a move to New England. I am not sure yet whether or not I will take a longer break from blogging. We'll see. I will post in a few months after we are settled to let you know if I will keep this up or not! Hopefully I will have good internet access and a chance to do so. For now, I will leave you with some photos of our beach week.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Some of you may be familiar with a beautiful story by Barbara Cooney, Miss Rumphius. The first time I read that story, I knew it was a keeper. I also knew that I had already produced my (first) "something beautiful": my daughter, C. For Miss Rumphius, her gift to humanity was the sowing of thousands of Lupine seeds. The last photo is from the lupines blooming in our fields a few weeks ago.
It was my daughter's sixth birthday last weekend, and I was pleased to present her with her first birthday crown. I made it out of wool/rayon felt, needle felted with merino and silk, then embroidered and embellished with crystals in matching hues. She looked like a princess in it, as you can see. Note the two lost teeth! Time to start our letters. (You fellow Waldorf-obsessors will understand.)
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Summer has hit-- lows in the seventies, and highs around ninety degrees in the afternoon! And the humidity... don't even ask. Fortunately, it is also time for strawberries! And rhubarb! It is one of life's ironies, that the best time for baking (berry season) is also the hottest part of the year. However, I would put up with far worse than heat exhaustion in order to have my strawberry shortcake. The shortcake is based on the Vanilla Chiffon Cake in A Perfect Cake, then filled with very slightly sweetened whipped cream (with a touch of vanilla) and our fresh organic strawberries from the family farm. The rhubarb is from our garden, the eggs are from the family farm (my in-laws) and the pie is the Quick Custard Rhubarb from A Perfect Pie. Both books are by Jane Purdy, and are the only cake and pie books anyone needs! The instructions are clear (I learned from these books) and the recipes are delicious-- entirely from scratch, and involving lots of butter. Fabulous! You can't beat the price either...
Baking and gardening have been distracting me lately from my various projects. But our Week Without Internet or Phone Service allowed me to get an amazing amount of knitting done. Verrry bad thunderstorms here lately-- something somewhere important got hit by lightning, so our service was down until Dashing Young Tattooed Internet Fixer came and repaired everything (for $300). Boy, I hadn't realized I was so addicted to my evening internet fix. Anyone else relate to that? :)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sorry, I couldn't resist yet another Spring-themed title. It was just too perfect! Here they are: our spring chicks. My husband couldn't resist them when he went to pick up our illegal milk. (Don't tell.) So now we have two Bantam chickens, sex as yet undetermined. Anyone know how to tell? Chickens, to be honest, I find a little creepy. They seem verrry far away on the scale of evolutionary development. I don't feel even vaguely related. Which is why, I guess, it's possible to eat them? Anyhow, we won't eat ours. They are pets only, and amazingly well-behaved at that! Not a single pecked hand or toe so far, although they do poop indiscriminately, and several of us have been unfortunate recipients.
Below, you see one fourth of our tiny vegetable garden. We figured we would garden for the kids only this year, so it is all stuff that we thought they would enjoy eating or pulling out! For eating: they love kale (can you believe it?), spinach, peas, carrots, broccoli. For pulling out: onions and potatoes. We also added some pansies and a nasturtium, both of which they will pick and eat! Their grandparents up the lane raise organic produce for sale at high-end restaurants, and in the big city chefs love the edible flowers. Because of this, both my children will pick and eat any pansy they come across! I have to smuggle them into vases...
Sunday, May 11, 2008
As planned, I have posted some lovely cozy photos of things I associate with Mother's Day-- my son at age 1 (note the rash on the cheeks-- after months of agony, we discovered he was sensitive to all chemically fragranced soaps or detergents), and the baby quilt my grandmother and I made for him.
But for some reason I just couldn't get excited about this post. All day I thought about how much I love being a mother, how lucky I am to be home with two healthy, beautiful children. But then after supper, I listened to the Women's Circle on my local college radio, and found myself sobbing over the dishes (anyone else experienced this?) Yes, I have done it before, but usually it was for selfish reasons in the past. This time, it was less so. I was crying because of the songs I heard, songs about mothers whose children died in wars, about women who cried together to cope with the pain of losing their children. I thought of how lucky I am, how sad and ashamed I am to be so fortunate here in my safe little bubble while other women's worlds are destroyed by the deaths of their children. Then I began to feel angry.
I never identified myself as political until I became a mother. I felt rather dispassionate politically throughout young adulthood, maybe because I was fortunate enough to grow up unscathed by any major social evils, such as poverty, war, or abuse. With the birth of my first child, things began to change. Her very birth was a struggle-- a struggle to find a place and a doctor who would allow me to give birth in the manner I chose: drug-free and with low interference on the doctor's part. Then, the struggle to breast-feed in a culture that at best turns a blind eye, and at worst, looks away in disgusted awkwardness. And now: the struggle to teach my kids that constant accumulation of more toys, more clothes, more everything is not the way to happiness. The struggle to feed them things that I consider to be food and not garbage. Don't even get me started on trying to avoid/compete with television or other influences that would teach my daughter to mimic adult sexuality in her dress, speech and behavior. Last year my search for toddler-sized flip flops led me to 3 main department stores full of only high-heeled flip-flops!!!
I don't feel like my expectations are too high. I want to raise children who wait until an appropriate age (as in at least 16!) to become sexually active. I want them to have strong, healthy minds and bodies, affected less by the media than by their natural impulses to eat food that truly feeds them and explore the outdoors or act-out play stories of their own creation. I want to raise a daughter who values herself as more than a beautiful, sexual object or a sharp-witted brain. I want to raise a son who values himself more than his ability to win at a competitive sport or excel in school. I don't think it is too much to ask of my country or society that it provide a safe, healthy environment for my children. Unfortunately, it seems increasingly less able to do so.
Granted, my expectations seem ridiculous when compared with the basic requests of mothers across the world who would only ask that their children not be killed. My requests are insignificant in comparison, and I am willing to admit that I am grateful to my country for providing at least this amount of safety to my children. However, my country does not do the same for all of its citizens, and most definitely participates in the killing of children in other countries. I placed the button on my blog last week to start becoming vocal about my feelings on this issue.
With these thoughts in my head, I couldn't help but wonder, what would happen if mothers were a real political force? Just think: REAL maternity leave (ever hear about Scandanavian maternity leave!?), on-site daycare at your workplace, no marketing to children via television, billboards or the internet, more programs to help people recover from child or sexual abuse, school systems that actually produce healthy, happy, thinking children, juvenile detention and prison programs that focus on healing and reconciliation... The list goes on.
How could we mothers, in spite of our differences in race, culture, or religion, not see past those differences to our shared and very simlar bonds of motherhood? I think we could. I think the only thing stopping us is a belief that we cannot make a difference. Maybe we can. We have to start somewhere. Hence my Motherhood Manifesto. :) I would love to hear yours.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Here are two of our most beautiful sights this week: Lilacs in perfect blossom, and a nest of Robin's Eggs, so conveniently placed on the climb-able tree! We all climbed up-- C on her own, me on my own, and then lifting J to see. He asks again every day, but then decides it's too scary halfway up. I just can't get over this gorgeous shade of blue. I would have to say it's my favorite color. Speaking of color, I was delighted with the way this shawl turned out-- my first Lace Project! This is the Shetland Triangle designed by Evelyn C. Clark for Interweave Knits Wrap Style book. I wanted to knit this pattern for a long time, but was too daunted. I shouldn't have been! It was a grat First Lace Project. The beautiful yarn comes from Cherry Tree Hill. Since it's a mill-end, it had no name for the colorway, but it was just the colors I was searching for. Can't wait to wear it! Now to sew a matching dress... Have to finish C's sundress first. :)
Friday, May 02, 2008
We had our Second Annual May Day Tea Party yesterday with a family from our Waldorf Homeschool Group. Since we are now out in the woods instead of in town, I thought it made sense to invite one family to stay for the afternoon, as opposed to the 5 girls who were dropped off by their parents last year. We had a lovely time eating the Flower Cakes we had made (well, I made). They were lemon Genoise (French Sponge Cake) with homemade lemon curd filling, and Italian Meringue Buttercream Icing. Yes, I am a firm believer in real desserts. Translation: truly delicious and worth eating! And they did take me almost all day on Wedsnesday. But boy, were they good. I probably ate half of the total quantity, sneaking off into the kitchen when they kids weren't loooking.
But the definite climax of the event was when we encountered a garter snake in the middle of consuming a live frog. No doubt about it, nature is riveting. Those kids could not tear their eyes away. Sad, creepy, but soooo fascinating. I love living out here for that very reason. It is the first time I have seen so many creatures outside (and inside, unfortunately) the house I am occupying This week alone we saw the following: insects, of course, snake (with frog), turtle, cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, sparrows, and today my first sighting of an Indigo Bunting! This bird is absolutely beautiful, and increasingly rare due to the loss of its habitat in some areas. If you want to see a photo and hear its lovely song, you can go to the Learn Bird Songs website.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Although it seems we can't get winter to leave us behind (it's supposed to freeze tonight for the second night in a row!) we have at least managed to turn over the soil for our garden, and we spent this morning making May Crowns at our Waldorf Homeschool Co-op. I have been leading the bi-monthly activities for our group of 10 kindergarteners, and unfortunately, I rarely remember my camera! Today I did manage to get some photos of their lovely crowns. Each child finger-crocheted the base of their crown, and then sewed on felt flowers and leaves. Some of the flowers were made from felt we had felted ourselves at our previous session. If you are interested in trying it out, let me know, and I will post some instructions.
The fairy is another version of the needle-felted fairy in my last post. This one is available for sale in my Etsy shop, and I will be listing kits to make fairies in these colors as well.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Finally a new felting kit added to the shop! After receiving a request for a felted doll kit, I designed this Spring Woodland Fairy in honor of the violets carpeting our woods. The kit includes everything necessary for beginning needle-felters. I wrote explicit instructions accompanied by detailed photos of the whole process. She is needle felted from pure wool and mohair roving, some of it hand-dyed by me. (Note the matching handspun yarn) I love the multi-purpose nature of roving. Makes me want to start spinning again...
Yesterday we had an incredibly blustery day, and C was delighted to take her new fairy out to fly. We are enjoying lovely weather here today, so back outside to swing!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
If you noticed that I disappeared for.. (let me check... almost a month!) and you wondered where I went, it was to Ravelry. I cannot stop surfing that site! I had no idea it would be so engrossing to look at other people's knitting projects. Its almost embarrassing... strangely voyeuristic, and yet somehow inspiring. If you are a knitter, and have not yet joined, and you wonder, what is this for? Trust me. Try it out, and you will know. (I wondered the same thing.) So, if you want to find me in Ravelry Land, my ID is threadblossom. I have finally posted pics of all my current projects, and I am especially enjoying the one above.
When I began knitting (for the second time, and the first time as an adult) I knew I would have to plod through the scarves and hats to get to what I really wanted to knit: anything and everything with lace. Well, here I am, 10 years later, I am finally having some very long-delayed gratification. I am knitting (a not all that complex) lace shawl for the first time. I would consider this my first REAL lace garment-- I learned yarn-over techniques on a sampler sweater, but it wasn't really lace all over, just interesting stitch patterns. This is the real thing, and I am soooo glad to discover that I actually really enjoy the process. How terrible if, after ten years, I tried it and hated it! Instead, I can't seem to stop; hence the long absence. At least I am sharing my excuses now!
It's not all that impressive yet, but I promise to post the finished project as soon as it's blocked to perfection.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Yesterday, we had a beautiful, sunny first day of spring. First thing in the morning, we looked out our window and saw FIVE robins! They were the very first ones we've spotted this year, too. They wouldn't let me get very close, but there is one in that picture above, right in the middle of the photo, in the shadow. Then today... four inches of snow! We brightened things up by making a Queen of the Spring doll for C. We were inspired by the beautiful dolls at Cherished Dreams. C chose the colors and I did the rest. I had forgotten how much fun needle-felting is! And below is our spring nature table, with our felted eggs, chick and flower dolls. I need to make a flower for the snowdrop doll, but for now she has the real thing-- even better!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Sunny days at last! We have been playing outside today in the sunshine without coats!!! It is marvelous to see my children so happy to run and jump and get muddy. We all had major cabin fever. Here are photos of our final bulb beauties. The sun came just in time since all we have left blooming is one daffodil! Now we get to watch for the "real" ones outside. And finally... my headband pattern is done, just in time for outdoor knitting! The pattern is called Dewdrop Beaded Headband and will be available from Earthfaire as well as from my Etsy shop, as soon as I have it printed up.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
First of all, let me say Thank You to those of you who wrote me such thoughtful comments on my last post! I am finally knitting again (and typing), and much to my relief it seems that the wrist/upper arm pain was caused not by the knitting but by the daily, repeated lifting of heavy wood and my wheelbarrow! We have a large house heated entirely by wood, and during those super-cold months I was stocking the wheelbarrow sometimes twice daily, and loading wood throughout the day. My husband works about 40 minutes away, so I figured why waste his time when he's home-- I can get the wood myself. And I have been, for about 2 months. Now it's his turn after all, I guess! Such a relief to not have to blame my knitting! With less lifting going on, my wrists and arms can easily handle knitting and typing again.
Sooo that brings us to this post: since I haven't been getting much new stuff made, I thought I would post an oldie but very goodie. This was the first sweater I knit for myself, and at that time (about 3 years ago) I decided to make it worth the effort and invested in 9 balls of Noros Silk Garden 228. I looove this sweater and I love to wear it in the spring and fall, especially. Aaaaah Noro... This is from Jane Ellison's Naturally Noro.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
My hands are something I have always appreciated, but apparently not enough! For the past few weeks I have been suffering from some wrist pain... Don't say that C--- T--- word! I have forced myself to abstain from knitting, and to reduce my typing, and things are feeling much better, but I guess I will make this short. Here are some photos of more exciting arrivals. We figured that even though we only have daffodils blooming indoors, it was okay to bring the new Daffodil Doll out a little early. We are watching for signs of growth outdoors, but so far ice melting is the only sign of spring!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Thank goodness I have been tagged by the lovely Louise of www.lululollylegs.blogspot.com and have some distraction from the beautiful, but persistent, existence of snow outside. It was fun answering these questions. :) Thanks, Louise! I love your blog, and am honored by your request!
Name four jobs I have had ~
1. High School German Teacher
2. Auntie' Anne's Pretzel Maker on Ocean City, MD boardwalk
3. English as a Second Language Teacher to 7th graders speaking 4 different languages
4. Local Fruit Orchard Stand attendant (age 14)
Four Movies watched over and over again ~
2. Blue (in French with Juliette Binoche)
3. Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth)
4. Beatrix Potter animated collection (it's all I let my kids watch)
Four places I’ve lived ~
1. currently in Michigan
2. Nevada, Missouri
3. Marburg, Germany
4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Four Shows I watch ~
2. Battlestar Gallactica
3. PBS Mystery!
4. The Closer
Four places I have been ~
1. all over Australia
2. Taize, France
3. Barcelona, Spain
4. Puerto Rico
Four people who email me ~
1. my sister
2. Other bloggers
3. my Waldorf-inspired local homeschooling group
4. my local contra-dancing group
Favorite things to eat ~
1. peanut butter
3. Thai Food
4. fresh vegetables from my in-laws' organic farm (up the lane)
Four places I would rather be ~
1. At my sewing machine (me too)
2. Swimming in a blue, blue sea somewhere (me too!!)
3. in Germany (anywhere in Germany!)
4. in a Waldorf school, teaching
Four things I look forward to this year ~
1. Watching my children grow
2. Designing more knitting patterns
3. Visiting my family out east
4. Going to the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan County
Okay, now I am ready to pass on this game! I am tagging Amy of My Merry Way and Emilie of The Little Nest.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Just to make you all jealous, here are some photos of my cousin's wedding held two weeks ago in San Diego. We had perfect weather-- in the high 60's. I got to be a bridesmaid! It was my second (and probably last) time-- I'm only 30, but almost all my friends are married. Since it was a cousin on my mother's side of the family, I had the added fun of helping to make all the bouquets and boutinierres (sp?). We have a wonderful tradition among the female aunts and cousins in our family of doing the flowers ourselves. Since the mother of the bride (my mother's sister) is a floral mastermind, and I have about 10 cousins helping every time, the flowers always come out gorgeous! What each bride ends up with is flowers just to her taste and waaaay below cost. A fabulous tradition, and one I benefited from greatly myself!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
After many weeks of anticipation, the bulbs we planted in January are finally blooming! We have many miniature daffodils and now a few yellow crocuses as well. Outside, the snow persists--but at least we have sun most days. Inside, we have been busy making more Fairy Dolls inspired by Sally Melville's book, Felt Wee Folk. Much to my delight, these dolls keep C entirely happily occupied during her daily Quiet Times (more for her mother now than for her!) Daily Quiet Time=daily return to sanity for Mommy. During Quiet Time, I have been completing my new pattern, soon to be revealed in its entirety. For now, just another glimpse above. However, the new Blue Felted Robin's Egg and Baby Robin Kits are ready and available in the shop! Have a look via the link to the right. On my second dyeing attempt, I finally achieved a perfect shade of Robin's Egg blue for the wool roving in the kit, and the finished eggs look great.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Here are four of my favorite distractions! I have acquired a love of knitting with beads, and here you can see my current project. I won't say yet what it is, but some of you know :). I will post more photos when it's finished; the pattern is still under construction. In the middle photo there is a more recently acquired obsession-- spinning. As you may recall, I finally managed to get my hands on a spinning wheel last summer, and here in the photo is my first gorgeous dye result. Pictured are wool roving, mohair roving and alpaca roving, which I am carding together to produce a lovely soft, bouncy yarn. Can't wait to knit with it... Must finish pattern... And of course, my two most important and most distracting distractions, looking their rascally best: C, showing off her new (handknit by me) hat with ponytails underneath, and J, who insisted on having his hair in ponytails too.
Monday, January 28, 2008
I can never resist starting the springtime crafts before the snow has melted, so we have been busy doing our best to encourage spring along. A few weeks ago we planted dozens of bulbs, and their shoots appear a little taller every morning. We look forward to seeing them turn into crocuses, grape hyacinths and narcissi.
Signs of Spring are scattered about the house as well, since J has taken a liking to my Felt Eggs and Baby Birds. I have to hide the ones that I want to sell-- otherwise, he does!
Signs of Spring are scattered about the house as well, since J has taken a liking to my Felt Eggs and Baby Birds. I have to hide the ones that I want to sell-- otherwise, he does!