Friday, October 21, 2016

A Perfect Day

Last Saturday was a perfect day.....

my husband won the 5K race has has been diligently training to win (strict, strict training for over 9 months, with many many hours of running commitment on his end and cooking commitment on mine!)......

I had a fabulous post-race nap (all the emotional energy of the race exhausted me! I was a nervous wreck while he was racing).....

and we had our annual bonfire/hayride/cookout with our church.

A beautiful full moon rose in the east as the bluegrass band played and the bonfire crackled.  

I went to sleep feeling so happy, and woke in the darkness of very, very early morning to the sound of a Great Horned Owl--my favorite.  

Perfectly perfect in every way.  Congratulations, Mr. Polly!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Applesauce Day

Yesterday I bought a bushel of "seconds" apples at our local orchard.  

That was 167 apples, if you're wondering.  Finn and I counted them as we washed them this morning.....

And my dear neighbor Naomi and I spent all day making applesauce.  She graciously offered her kitchen and her equipment for this (and fed us lunch!).  I'd never made applesauce before, and it was valuable to have a guide.  

*7 quarts canned applesauce
*5 quarts fresh applesauce (to be made into apple butter) 
*19 one-cup portions of applesauce, frozen
*3 two-cup portions, frozen

Our total yield was just over 18 quarts.

One of my children doesn't like applesauce.  This will last us all winter for sure! 

 Finn and I plan to make apple butter within the next few days and sell it as a fundraiser--he has decided he wants to raise $1,000 to donate to helping build a medical clinic in a developing nation.  The apple butter is our first step, and we're brainstorming additional ideas. For past fundraisers we've sold his artwork on notecards and sold Christmas tins of gluten-free goodies, and we'll probably do both this year.

Now it's time for a hot bath and bed.....applesauce day was exhausting!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What is Already in You

"Claudia said, 'But, Mrs. Frankweiler, you should want to learn one new thing every day.  We did even at the museum.'

'No,' I answered.  'I don't agree with that. I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything.  And you can feel it inside you.  If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you.  You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow." 

--E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Friday, September 30, 2016

White Denim + A Sharpie + Marimekko's Siirtolapuutarha = A Pillow

My love of Marimekko designs goes way back to 2006, when my husband and I spent a few weeks in Finland. I had never heard of the quirky Finnish company's designs back then, but was immediately enchanted by their cheery graphics and pops of color--and the fabulous storefront.  Ever since then I've kept one eye on Marimekko's fabrics. 

This year I became enamored by the Siirtolapuutarha design. I decided it was perfect for Finn's room and tried to rationalize having new window valances made for him with it--but that $53/yard price tag stings. (Plus, Finn insisted that his current valances are perfect.  Okay!) Then I thought about buying some to make a pillow.  But still: $53 for a pillow?  For a boy's room? 

I have many yards of white denim fabric.  And I own Sharpies.  So one day, gripped by inspiration, I just went at it. 

And golly, it was super fun. 

I don't mind the imperfections a bit; in fact, I kind of love them because they make it mine. 

Now I shall back it with some leftover black fabric with a white dot (and a strip of red, because I need to piece the back, and the red will look cool), stuff it with a pillow form from our old fancy living room pillows (Pottery Barn silk, now threadbare), and call it done.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Finn and the Ships

Back in April I began a "redo" of Finn's room, which was still sage green from his baby days.  He and I labored over the wall color (I love the end result).  I bought a fabulous desk for him on Craigslist and a chair from the thrift store.  I found a bedside table (that is pretty much falling apart, but made of solid wood! it will get a makeover soon) at a local antiques shop. I snagged a wonderful mid-century dresser on Craigslist, and fell in love with a 1940's bookcase (pictured below) at the antiques mall. So we kind of have a mid-century vibe going now. 

All my furniture comes to me this way: hand-me-down, castoff, secondhand.  I kind of love it.

Last month at my great-aunt's estate sale Finn and I were digging around in the basement and found a bunch of framed prints of 1940s ships.  Given Finn's intense interest in the White Star Line (World War 1-era ships), I thought he might like to have one.  I told him to run upstairs and ask the lady running the sale how much a print would be.  He returned with the answer: $2.  

Two dollars?! I told him to get as many as he wanted.  He thought this was an extreme indulgence and asked are you sure? more than once.  For $2 each, YES! I was sure! 

He took all but one--he left one there because he didn't like the artistry.  Typical Finn.  

On the back of each print there are handwritten notes on when each ship was sold, along with typed notes on the history of the ship.  I know these were part of the collection of my great-uncle, and I love that Finn has this little treasure of his own now. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Snippets of September

When I'm not blogging (which is the majority of the time, obviously), here's what we've been doing:

*reading Shakespeare.  Today Finn disappeared into his room with one of our Shakespeare retellings; he resurfaced an hour later and reported that he'd read "Romeo and Juliet."  Watching Shakespeare, reading Shakespeare, playing Shakespeare.....we're a little obsessed.

*Slowly decorating the house with autumnal things. Painting the brown terra cotta pot where the fern lives. (It's white now.)  Buying white and orange pumpkins.

*Some of us have been watching football.  I'm not included.

*Throwing a Japenese-themed tea party, just for the children, last Friday.

*Quizzing each other on the countries of the world and their capitals (Finn is an autodidact and is becoming a master at this).

*Spending long minutes and sometimes hours each morning down the lane at my aunt and uncle's house.  They're on vacation and we're in charge of the morning shift for their dog and three cats.  We walk down after breakfast.  My aunt left toys on the enclosed porch--loads of old Barbies and accessories from the 1980s, a toy grill with tons of food, and books!  So I sit and read while the children play.  Sometimes I play, too.

*Feeling cranky over a lawnmower that will never run again.   (It's only 5 years old! We've had it repaired multiple times!  Friends, do not, under any circumstances, purchase an Ariens mower.)

*Drawing a Marimekko pattern onto white denim with a Sharpie....I'm going to turn it into a pillow for Finn's room.

*So much Yorkshire Gold tea.

*Enjoying the first two sessions of our tiny Charlotte Mason co-op, where we do nature study, drawing, cartography/geography, recitation, hymns, Shakespeare, and for the older students, Plutarch--all in a neat three-hour afternoon with six other families.  By the end of it I am ravenously hungry and need a nap, but it's uplifting and enjoyable.  Today I recited Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice."

*Sewing a bright yellow jersey jacket for autumn.  I'm not sure how I look in bright yellow--but it was 100% cotton, on clearance at the fabric store, and I wanted to test the Alabama Chanin jacket pattern, so I couldn't resist.  Next up: a purple ensemble.

*Watching "Pride and Prejudice."  Annie says things like "capital!  oh, capital!" and "make haste!" There is much speculation about whether Elizabeth Bennet will marry Mr. Darcy.  There is much disdain for Mr. Bingley's sisters.  Every time I watch the series, I pick up on more humor, nuances, and bits I hadn't noticed before; I flat-out love it.

*Practicing piano.

*Taking care of our new cat, Alice.  She's very snuggly.  And she sheds.

*Spending wide open hot days at the pool, where we're the only family around until after school lets out, and even then it's not at all crowded.  Having an entire pool to yourself is quite delightful.

*Reading lots of books. Right now alone I'm juggling The Alchemist, A Room with a View, a couple of parenting/homeschooling books, The Adventure of Living, Anne of Ingleside and Shakespeare After All.  I have different books for different situations: the thin book that fits nicely into the pool bag or purse, then book on kindle that is perfect for reading after everyone is in bed and the house is dark, the hefty book I read with a highlighter on the sofa in the afternoon........there's a book for every occasion.

*And last but not least--praying.  The need is great right now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Don't Berate A Child for Being Human

Today I had to run a quick errand on the way to the pool.  I was in a slightly cranky mood...some combination of tiredness and lack of patience and desire to just get to the pool already

We went into the phone company, waited for a few minutes, got the item we needed, and left.  During our wait, Annie and Finn sat on some plush chairs and watched a television show about animals....behaving so sweetly.

Less than five minutes down the road, Annie asked "WHERE IS MY BARBIE?"

As it turns out, she'd taken the Barbie into the phone company office and had left it there.  I turned around to go back and I will admit that I was not gracious.  I felt so inconvenienced!  I launched into a stern lecture that involved phrases like "this is why I don't like for you to take toys into places" and "when we own things we have to be responsible for them" and even "now we'll get to the pool later because the traffic is worse because school is letting out."  Right around the time I was griping about the pool and school letting out, I caught myself.  In fact, I literally clamped my hand over my own mouth and then said "I'm not saying any more."

Because I realized that I was being mean.  To a 5 year old.  Who simply forgot her doll.  Because she's a human.  And did I mention she's five?

I immediately remembered all the times *I* had left items somewhere, as an adult.  Once I left my cell phone at Finn's art lesson.  At this very moment I am not entirely sure where our checkbook is.  These things happen because we are human.  My husband hasn't dressed me down for misplacing the checkbook (and I'm fairly sure it is my fault and not his!).  The art teacher didn't give me a stern talking-to on keeping up with my stuff and not leaving things at his place.  Why not?  Because we are adults!  Because we understand that these things happen!  And because we know that preserving a relationship is more important than expressing our judgment or disappointment.

Why is it so easy to forbear with an adult and yet so tempting to scold a child?  If my husband had been the one to leave something at the phone company office, we would have just turned around to get it.  I wouldn't have griped and moaned and complained.  So why did I feel that I could do that with my child?  I do not wish to raise a child who feels shame when she misplaces something or forgets something, and yet my behavior today, if repeated throughout her childhood, could easily lead to that.

Lesson learned!