Friday, December 20, 2013

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Maria and Her Piratical Mateys

Yo Ho! Maria had a practically perfect piratical party!

Captain & Crew :: Amira~Maria~Izzy~Charlotte~Chanay~Nathalie

She's nine years old, a first rate captain... she leads with a smile, sets her sails for a true course, and is always willing and eager to work alongside her crew. She is curious, inspired, enthusiastic. She knew her ninth birthday would be a pirate birthday since she was six years old. Even stormy weather fails to dampen her spirits, and when we had to reschedule this shindig, she was as right as rain about it.

Her grandmother Ruth baked not one, but two amazing piratical cakes. Maria's aunt Holly came in full pirate garb... ooh arghh! There was a bouncy house, which was nearly bounced into retirement... it was bounced in from morning through the night! We made a treasure hunt, complete with hidden clues and riddles. When they found the X they brought up a chest full of Lego bricks, and some {melted} chocolate coins. Every scurvy dog got to reach in, eyes shut, and pull out their share of the booty! I love their hopeful expressions. Maria was so delighted she even danced a jig. James' gift served as a perfect candle snuffer!

Notice William's vest? He finished it! He was pushing himself, to have it completed in time for his sister's party. He really customized that pattern a lot. We both did, actually. He added pocket plackets, made buttons, sewed button holes and redesigned the back ties. I had to learn custom darts, how to make button holes, and wear/how to cut the pattern for a better fit. Undaunted by our challenges and setbacks, William is already talking about his next sewing lesson! William cut a dashing figure, and gave Maria's pirate theme great flare.

Max deserves a shout out, too. I know he's not pictured... he's shy, and he moves fast. But I didn't fail to notice that he was tireless in being the sea monster, striking fear and raising shrieks from his sister and her friends. We much appreciate Alex for securing his bamboo fort, making it sturdy enough for the rough bunch who came ashore looking for treasure.

It was a fun day, full of kindnesses, sweetness, friendnesses, cakenesses, and piratenessess... thanks to friends and family, near and far, Maria is a happy, and well-feted pirate girl.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Some Chickens, A Farm Girl, Some Goats & Günder

Our open air barn has held up to the first storms of the season, to a frosty cold snap. Hens, goats, and bunnies all seem to be doing just fine. It helps me to see other bloggers posting pictures of their goats, and chickens, up to their ankles in snowdrifts... they look adorable and unfazed. Our critters stay dry, and out of the wind, and that seems to be all that's required. Actually, it's more like dry, sheltered, and extra-well fed.

We have had three green eggs, so far, and each new one has been as exciting as the first. We are still waiting on some dark brown Cuckoo eggs, and something from our Buff. Kamen came out of retirement and has laid four eggs! Four! She's such a dear and funny one. She still crows in the morning, she still rules the roost, and now she's stepped forward to show the new girls their business!

Our Tasha Tudor Goat and Ada Lovelace Goat have gotten so wooly, and fluffed out they could be mistaken for sheep. Funny looking sheep. Ada must have something in her family tree related to cashmere goats... her undercoat of fine, soft wool fits the description. Maria has been collecting a bit, but maybe we should be undertaking this wool harvest in greater earnest. She separates the coarse hair from the wool, and actually made a paint brush! They do love their brushing time.

It's not really farm news, but Mister Washburn Foo is still holding Christmas captive, at least the decorating part of the holidays. He cannot keep himself away from any surface, including the tree. Surprisingly he shows the least interest in the gingerbread houses, and those are holding up fine. His mischievous and plotting antics have earned him a new moniker... Gunter... Gundy, Gunder, Gunthy, Goonter, Günder.

Our farm girl will wake up any minute now, and she is sure to squeal with delight when she counts only three days of school left. She loves school... but hey! winter break cannot be beat! On her wish list for Christmas: a chemistry set, and horse themed accessories for her toy horses, and "... crafty, fun projects, new cards for Magic the Gathering would be fun too. Oh and one more thing could you get me a pumpkin pie to share with my family?" She's a gem.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Early Christmas

I love the timing of this special delivery. It came after dark, the postal carrier knocking at our door with a package. Geoff and all the children were home, and we were in the midst of weekday busyness... dishes, homework, Geoff going back into work, pondering dinner options. There was a collective and joyful sigh when we saw the return address on the neat box... Wisconsin. A card and personal note, and all of these homemade delicacies and treats, from Grandma Nancy.

The box must have sat in a particularly warm spot in the delivery van, because as though they were fresh from the oven, the cookies were warm! Geoff held up a green tree cookie, and said, "This is my childhood." He looked nostalgic, and I understood the memories he was was enjoying. Christmas, in Wisconsin. Grandma's house. Treats, laughter, snow, sledding, the tree in the front window, and a Scrabble game at the kitchen table.

I took a plate to Max, who was done reading Crime and Punishment and almost finished with physics. A cookie and Chex mix makes any homework load easier. Maria was exclaiming over the Chex mix, and highly impressed with the very idea of making chocolate pretzels at home! William smiled, nostalgic, too, I think. Alex and I were sampling. We were all enjoying Grandma's note, and recalling sledding in the backyard... taking care not to land in the creek!

Indeed, this early Christmas brought something for everyone to enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Five Good Things

Have you ever played with paperclay? Maria and I had our first experience with PaperClay, by Creative, and we are utterly, craftily smitten. I like the expression "seriously fun." It's also easy to use, and highly addictive to play with. Our inspiration? Another great discovery on Pinterest, and a wonderful blog, too: Pixie Hill.

The first day we made our forms... the mushrooms, which can be learned from the tutorial at Pixie Hill, and then we added fir trees, and houses, and wee elves. The next day, when our creations were dry, we painted them with satin acrylic paints. I've had these tiny baskets since forever, and we used them to assemble our little forest scenes. The last touch was some moss, and sprinkles of glitter. Oh-yeah, we let our crafty flags fly!

If you are wondering about the patience and skill it takes to enjoy this activity... consider, Maria is nine, and she thought this was great fun. The clay is soft, and can be shaped with small tools. Being soft can make it a bit of a challenge too, because the clay tends to move and take impressions with the slightest pressure. Anything she didn't like, though, was easy to just roll-up and start over on. Painting takes a steady hand with such tiny forms, so we used our smallest brushes, and sometimes just the tip of a toothpick. Acrylics dry fast, and any mistakes can simply be painted over.

Maria had fun, and I had an absolute paperclay fiesta! I can hardly put the stuff down.

Somehow, I made it to church, and I fixed a really delicious dinner. I can't be sure if I got much else accomplished. But I am wholly satisfied, because, clearly, the world needs more teeny red capped mushrooms, and glittered moss.

I am forcing myself to step away... to think about the week ahead, and a certain list of chores and duties that must not be neglected! Help!

Wouldn't they look dear in a tree? But oh dear, not our tree!

Good Things...

1. Making dinner with friends, and sharing dinner with friends.

2. Having AAA... especially when stuck with a flat tire!

3. Bloggers who share ideas, tutorials, tips, recipes, and inspiration, for all kinds of activities!

4. Children's Christmas pageants.

5. Green eggs, and sweet, big, fat hens.

What's good with you?