Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A glimpse...

Of something unexpected !
It snowed! Yesterday, I went to feed Ginger bunny and was taken by surprise when I looked out the window. Huge, delicious snowflakes were falling from the sky! Now snow in October is unusual here, and fleeting. But after returning home from taking the girls to school, Jasper and I got to play in the falling snow.

It felt like a real treat to experience the shift in season. It reminded me to take joy in the unexpected moments that nature offers.

And it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate with friends over a lasagna dinner and jack-o-lantern carving.

Our family tradition is to bake apples on the first snow fall, but I will save this for the real snow that will be here before we know it! Time to get our woolens out.
Lucky Jasper got a new winter hat, perfectly cozy and covers his ears from the cold winter winds. He got to try it out at the Arboretum today with Vivienne's class. We had a wonderful morning walk, learning about the amazing arthopods. The kids got to see dragonfly larvae in the pond and hunt for bugs under rocks and logs. They had a blast, even in the chilly weather. Our guide, Jonathan, who is the educational director, is amazing. I highly recommend their programs.

With thanks to the gifts of mother nature...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blessings of Autumn Days

What could this little brown thing be?...

Why, a lovely acorn sister, of course!

Here is a preview of good things to come! Could it really be so near to Halloween ? Mia and Vivienne created the acorn sisters concept, and have been sketching it for weeks. We took a wool sweater and felted it in the washing machine and then sewed it into the acorn caps, and the waist belt is fashioned of fallen oak leaves. Their costumes remind me of one of our favorite books, Woody, Hazel and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow. Jasper's costume is still in the works. His will be made from a recycled sweater, with cute floppy ears! (You will have to wait to see what he will be!)

We had such a full weekend, so much fun going on that I have to recap some highlights. If only I carried my camera along! Vivienne and I had special mother-daughter time yesterday, and spent it at the SE Animal Fiber Faire. It was awesome to see and feel all the luscious wool rovings and yarns, in every color if the rainbow! My mind was filled to the brim with project ideas and inspirations, more than I could ever imagine doing. And we visited with the fuzzy angora rabbits and shy alpacas. Gosh, I love the alpacas. I wonder how my neighbors would feel about a small urban herd? We had a special lunch at my favorite indian restaurant and then browsed at the wonderful Downtown Books and News. Vivi scored a German edition of Where's Waldo and I found a copy of my book club's pick for the month which happens to be written by one of my favorite authors! And to top off the afternoon, the girls and I went to a free student performance of The 5 Browns - it was so very inspiring to watch these young classical musicians with such a passion for their music.
Today was my time with Mia, and we gathered with my handwork group for an afternoon of knitting. It was a nice way to wind down the weekend, and get going on the sweater I have been meaning to finish for Vivienne. I am almost there! We squeezed in a cup of tea and book browsing, as well. I can't say no to a visit at to the bookshop.
Here are some images from the week. We trekked down to the Farmer's Market after school on Wednesday, about a mile and a half. The kids love to stop and enjoy the various leaf piles along the way.

Jasper working in the garden

Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite reads at the moment:

Quiet the Mind

Our bodies produce

the bodies of our children.

Our noisy minds produce

the fears of our children.

But the Tao produces

the spirit of our children.

Still the body.

Quiet the mind.

Discover the spirit.

The Parents' Tao Te Ching by William Martin

Our first toasty fire of the season
yours in Autumn warmth and light...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shades of Red

Something about the color red has me energized today. My red clogs gave an extra kick to my step, though I could have easily stayed in and read a book under the covers all day, given the chance! I love the reds of autumn. The sky is tinged pink as I write, giving a new hue to everything below. Perhaps it is all the glorious leaves we have been collecting, or the apples we are harvesting, or my new-to-me thrift store clogs! Here's to the passion that red inspires...

Red in Autumn
by Elizabeth Gould

Tippery-toes, the smallest elf,
Sat on a mushroom, by himself.
Playing a little tinkling tune
Under the big round harvest moon;
And this is the song that Tippery made
To sing to the little tune he played.

"Red are the hips, red are the haws,
Red and gold are the leaves that fall,
Red are the poppies in the corn,
Red berries on the rowan tall;
Red is the big round harvest moon,
And red are my new little dancing shoon."

Little red leaves are glad today
For the wind is blowing them off and away.
They're flying here, they're flying there,
Little red leaves, you're everwhere!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kindergarten Fun

Today I had such fun visiting Vivienne's classroom. What a wonderful bunch of children! And Elana and Jo are amazing, nurturing teachers. I love this class. I feel so grateful for the time I get to spend in there. Since we are having the most magnificent days of autumn, I focused on celebrating the season. We read one of my favorite books, The Apple Cake by Nienke van Hichtum. Then we made leaf children. I helped the children in small groups, while the others made leaf rubbings with beeswax block crayons. The kids were so proud of their beautiful creations. I also brought in some teeny apple cakes (made in mini-muffin tins) for an after-lunch snack. It was a wonderful healthy recipe I adapted from the vegetarian cookbook Better than Peanut Butter and Jelly. Since I have seen similar recipes online, I am going to share my adapted version.

Yummy Apple Cakes

1 cup grated apple

1 cup grated carrot (or fresh grated pumpkin)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 c. all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

1/2 cup agave syrup or maple syrup

Butter mini muffin tins and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine syrup with applesauce, oil and eggs. Stir in grated apple and carrot. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Stir dry ingredients into wet, until just combined.

Bake until toothpick comes clean when inserted in the muffin. I think the time was about 12 minutes, give or take a bit. Other nice additions, would be raisins or chopped nuts. Or for a special occasion, perhaps a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. Enjoy!

~Warmest Autumn Blessings!~

Saturday, October 11, 2008


One of the brown bears at the Nature Center really did plant a seed of adventure in my kids today. Just look at this determination to climb! I imagine the bear feeling a real stirring in his heart to stretch the boundaries of his confining home, amid the masses of visitors. He was nearly at the level of the passer-by's, looking to reach higher and higher branches. Then my kids were scouting out trees and branches, they couldn't get enough! If you are interested in an article on how young children learn by imitation, Rahima Baldwin Dancy, author of You Are Your Child's First Teacher, sums it up beautifully.

Taking photos seems to inspire my outlook to shift. What can I appreciate today? Just looking around at the beauty of nature, or my children's faces, I feel humbled. It really does quite my mind, when I am caught up in the more exhausting moments.
~Just look at these elegant eggplants fresh from the garden~
Speaking of fine food, I have been baking for tomorrow's book club. Pumpkin cake with sage icecream and pumpkin cherry compote, doesn't that sound delicious? Thank goodness for these monthly gatherings, where would my brain be without the motivation for reading such a range of books? But I must confess, it is more about the superb food and comradery for me! (particularly, ahem, when I have not finished my reading...)

We also got inspired by attending a Suzuki violin recital, in which our friends, Lily and Claire, were playing. I am always moved by the musical talents of children. The songs brought me back to my own childhood, listening to my sister, Amy. Vivienne was especially drawn to the violin, and seems to want to learn for herself. I have such a longing for musical ability, and yet I am short on the natural inclination and the time. It would be a wonderful thing to see my children striving for musical self expression.

~pre-recital play at the bird sanctuary~

~more Nature Center festivities~ watching cloggers~

~getting face paint~

And here is the sweet table setting that I came downstairs to this afternoon, when Mia and I had a few quiet hours together. So many everyday blessings.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Weekend of Personal Rejuvenation

This past weekend was a special experience for me. It is the first time in my 8 1/2 years of motherhood, that I have devoted a full weekend to my own nurturing! I feel that it is an important example to set for my kids. Certainly, it requires a full cup to be able to continually give to others. And I love to nurture my family, so I decided that it was well-justified personal time.

I attended the SE Women's Herbal Conference at Camp Rockmont. It was an incredible union of over 500 women. Just being in the presence of so many daughters of the earth was completely awe-inspiring. I enjoyed learning so much about herbalism and women empowerment. It really deepened my passion for gardens and herbs, and fueled my desires for connecting to the natural world. Viewing plants as wise sentient beings, who offer humankind infinite gifts, and being able to learn from these plant beings, not only by way of scientific knowledge, but perceptions of the heart, was one of the greatest lessons of all.

The conference raised my awareness of the responsibility of power as a women, to create, to facilitate change, to inspire a path that is good for all beings, that cares for the Great mother Earth and all her children. It was a truely special weekend, of resting, learning, sharing, and communing with other beautiful women. I look forward to the day when my girls are old enough to join me in this sacred circle of sisterhood.

Check out the powerful Red Temple Movement! And be inspired by the sweet sounds of sisters, Leah and Chloe, of Rising Appalachia.

~Suki Roth, one of my favorite herbalists, introducing Black Cohosh~

~The barberry (aka Oregon Grape) , one of the many herbs I learned about~Teach your children

what we have taught our children

that the earth is our mother.

Whatever befalls the earth

befalls the sons and daughters of the earth

If men spit upon the ground,

they spit upon themselves.

This we know.

The earth does not belong to us,

we belong to the earth.

This we know.

All things are connected,

like the blood which unites one family.

All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth

befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.

We did not weave the web of life,

We are merely a strand in it.

Whatever we do to the web,

we do to ourselves...