autumn days

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Such Appreciation

Every day I go into my one social media site and post my gratitude list.  It makes me feel so good to reflect on what I am thankful for in my life.  There is so much to love in our lives.  When having trouble with creating this list, I start small, like appreciating books or breaths.  Then the list grows into loving bubbles, babies, binoculars, bats, and on and on.  Each day my list is different and surprising.  My heart opens and fills my body with love when I reflect upon my blessings.  The more often I do this, the healthier all parts of my being are.  Give it a spin!

Today I appreciate fans and curtains to keep our home cool in the summer heat.  I appreciate time to reflect and type, intentionally open my heart and feel my feelings, brainstorm garden details, finish big projects, and prepare for upcoming projects. 

I am grateful for this space between big projects, this quiet space in which to think and rest.  I appreciate a dinner date with my husband.  I cherish my children having such a great time with an energetic intelligent creative young woman while I run errands.  Watching them run and joyfully shriek, yeah, that's good too.

I am thankful for patiently talking with my children about tools to use instead of whining or fighting.  I appreciate sun and rain to help our garden grow.  I love thunder and lightening and laughter and anticipation and untying knots.  I appreciate my daughter's excitement each time she goes out to see her garden and each plant she has grown from seed.  I appreciate craft time with friends, food time with friends, play time with friends, feeling such love and appreciate for our friends, feeling at home in our community. 

I appreciate being so in love with my home and land and cherishing the fruits of our labors.  I appreciate this blog as a creative outlet.  I appreciate sharing this daily list with you, Dear Reader.  I enjoy knowing I could go on forever with this list, and knowing I GET TO pause whenever I choose. 

What's on your list today?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Our Happy Songs

We have so much fun creating, discovering, and improvising our happy songs.  Often when my two children and I are confined to a car, there are three melodies and verses being shared simultaneously.  I sing "Exactly" as soon as we leave home, my version of morning coffee.  We sing loudly through tunnels the word "Tunnel!"  We sing "I have peace like a river" through cemeteries.  Then there is Pharrell William's Happy at the city train station.  We also love singing the ABCs, nursery rhymes, and "This little light of mine."  We love music by Elizabeth Mitchell, Anne-Louise Sterry, Barbra Streisand, Raffi, Beatles, Nirvana, and Putumayo mixes.  When in need of new tunes, we head for the library. 
What are your happy songs?
Join us in song!

A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village

While I was cleaning out my beloved grandmother's pantry, my children ventured to Salem, Oregon, to A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village with their papa.  They always have a blast there.  This time my son went down the long dark slide by himself and they both explored all the nooks and crannies they could find.  Here are my favorite photos from their day.

Getting Outside

We treasure our time outside.  Almost every week we devote one day to the great outdoors.  Nature time is inexpensive and at our fingertips when we make the time and space for it.  The more we connect with Mother Nature and her many cycles, the more we connect with our roots and ourselves.  Here are some photos of how we've been enjoying the seasons recently, in pajamas or swim trunks.  Count us in for getting out. 

How do you connect with the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees?

Building our own little forested mountain (bottom left) at Mount Hood's Ski Bowl
Seeing the city by bicycle

Somewhere north of Mount Hood

Look at all those useful herbs in our garden!

Liam planting squash in his garden box

Up in the cherry tree again

Loving the liquid sunshine

Exploring in the river

Up to her neck in sand

Bounty of berries for breakfast

Hanging out on a friend's farm

Building Happy Energy

What brings me energy?  Well, every day I rely on something a little different.  Two days ago, I found my energy boost in playing Pharrell Williams' Happy song over and over while dancing with my children on city train platform.  Yesterday it was laughter about the family-sized popcorn spilling on the car floor in rush hour traffic.  Some days dancing, drawing, gardening, kissing, being productive bring me energy. 

Every single day I load up on love and light first thing in the morning by stating my intentions to connect with my angels, to pull in and hold energy, to be judgment-free, to feel safe and secure in my body, to heal instead of hurt, to appreciate my ancestors and my life, and to share the love. 

Today what brought me much joy was singing.  I pulled up all the happy songs I could muster.  Especially in the car.  Our car has become a happy singing festival on wheels.  Our songs help us lose track of time and trust we are arriving at our destination as just the right time to sit next to or meet just the right new friends.  Sing a song of six pence, a pocket full of rye.  Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong, sing of good things not bad, sing of happy not sad, sing it in your own style, even when it starts with a hoarse whisper.  Trust the energy is flowing and growing.  Feel it.  Appreciate it.  Enjoy it.  Watch it brighten the lives of those around you.  What brings energy into your life?

My magical musicians

Loving on Grandma

I had the privilege of spending a couple weeks with my mother's mother this spring.  She and I have been pen pals since I was born, though only in the last year have we spent much time together.  What a treasure to have a grandmother still with us on this earth, and to get to spend time with her.  For this trip, Grandma Elaine spent time with my family and then I flew to her home with her. 

Those two nights with my grandmother, sleeping in her bed under her 120 year old family quilt, were the first two nights away from my three and a half year old son.  I'd only been away from my six and a half year old daughter for one night before this trip.  It is incredible to be so productive and helpful in two days away.  Grandma Elaine and I ran so many errands, planted trees and flowers, visited family, cleaned out the pantry, cooked and froze meals, got her back into her email account, took a tour of town, and so much more. 

I saw new sides to my grandmother in her role as aunt, sister, friend, and neighbor.  I witnessed her fierce determination, persistence, stamina, and resourcefulness.  It is comforting she asks for help when she needs it and has an incredible community of support around her.  She is very loved.  I feel so comforted by meeting Grandma Elaine's siblings (all five of them, between ages 73 to 90) and other family and friends.  Time with her heals wounds I didn't even know I had.  I so cherish this time with my beloved grandmother.  What a tremendous gift.  And my family and I look forward to more!

Stuffing soothing herb socks in our herb class

Rocking out with the band

At home in Grandma's house, built by her great-grandfather long ago

Details of a life well lived

The family quilt that kept us warm

Our family's cemetery

Taking a cherished tour of my great-great-grandfather's house

Garden Reprieve

This winter and spring when our weed-patch-of-a-garden was manageable, I thought it would be so great to harvest our weeds and use them for our cooperative herb classes.  An endless supply, right?And then the weeds grew taller than me and I felt overwhelmed just thinking of weeding the garden.  My friend Holly generously helped me dig out the weeds and my husband graciously brought in bark and soil for me to finish the job. 
Now looking out at our almost-weed-free garden, it brings me pleasure to be able to see the edibles, to take a half hour to pull all the weekly weeds out of the boxes, and to look forward to fewer weed challenges in the future.  I hesitantly used weed fabric for this project (even weed fabric is political around here), as the invasive horsetail herb was spreading everywhere and needed to be stopped. 
Before weeding the entire garden, I harvested what I wanted, such as the horsetail herb, useful for athlete's foot and other benefits.  The wild daisies and flowers were moved to flower beds.  The top bed will be home to blueberry bushes and our tomatoes.  What relief to finish this big project before summer heat hits.

Anna's Super Awesome Long-Lasting Play Dough

Our dear friend Anna gave us an awesome play dough recipe we'd like to share.  We simply love it. 

  1. Mix 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of salt, and 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar.  
  2. In a large measuring cup add any scent, spice, or color you like.
  3. To this add up to 2 cups boiling water.
  4. Add 2 Tablespoons oil and 1 1/2 cups of the water.
  5. Mix and add more water if you need.
  6. As it cools, turn on to the counter and knead.
  7. If it starts to dry out you can add a little oil to it.

Science Tricks

Science experiments are so fun, and with a little help from a library book or a creative friend, they are easy.  I took a plethora of photos from our cooperative's family night science table so we can share these projects with friends later.  My children and I stood on a crate of raw eggs without cracking any of them.  Who knew science was so much fun?!  What scientific projects do you love undertaking at home?

Pull the dollar out from under the stack of quarters atop a glass bottle.

Which soda cans float and sink?  Diet soda's float.

Fun with ping pong balls...

Potato straw creatures

Elaborately balancing nails

Which eggs sink and float?  Try it with hard boiled or fresh eggs, salty water, soda water, etc.

Preschool Scents

For our cooperative preschool, we spent a day exploring smells as part of the five senses unit.  Pre-reading preschoolers smelled these jars to guess what they were smelling.  They had a great time with this unit, as did their parents for presentation night.  All the materials were things I had at home.  Simple, curiosity-building, and delightfully smelly.

Capes & Aprons, Oh My!

Our friends hosted a superhero party where everyone wore a cape with their first initial on the back.  She simply cut the back and neck off the t-shirts, leaving the front and sleeves for this handy little painting apron.  She attached strings to the back of the neck and now it ties in the back.  Her children decorated the fronts of the smock and gave them as gifts.  So this one t-shirt became both a cape and a painting apron.  What fun!

Dandy Sautéed Greens

For our herbal remedies class, Hannah and her friends sautéed up their own dandelion greens.  The greens were so scrumptious there was not a crumb remaining.  This is a simple recipe, especially after you've done it once or twice, though you can eat these greens any way you like.  Add a little more spice, a little sweet, savory, make it just your style.  You can even put the new leaves in your salads for a vitamin boost.  How do you like to eat your dandy greens?

Sautéed Dandelion Greens

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
These bitter greens mellow out when sautéed with garlic and seasonings.


1 Large Bunch Dandelion Greens
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Dash Of Red Pepper Flakes
1 Large Clove of Garlic, Chopped
1 Tablespoon Vinegar


Rinse the greens well, and remove any brown ends.
Squeeze dry to remove excess water.
Cut into 3 inch pieces. In a large, heavy saucepan or frying pan, add the damp greens, the garlic clove, vinegar, and the oil.
Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the greens are soft and tender.
Add salt and pepper, and red pepper until you have reached your desired level of heat.
Place on a platter, and serve.

Dandelion Cookies

We had so much fun harvesting dandelions and baking them into cookies.  (Here's one recipe, though we love the one from  Dandelions are so delicious, and so healthy.  They help with many skin issues, digestive challenges, sore muscles (as a topical oil), and there are so many tasty ways to eat them!  Sauté the greens, fritters, fruit shakes, and cookies.  When we sautéed the greens in our herb class, every student devoured them completely.  Our friends raved about the cookies.  Simple, healthy, fun.  What a treat!

Appreciations du Jour

I will write anyway.  I love to write and will make time in my life to write.  I so appreciate this time to write during the day.  What a rare and treasured gift.  What gift do you treasure today?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bananagram Scrabble

It's such a simple activity, yet we get such joy out of Scrabble.  My daughter has been fortifying her spelling with Bananagrams, a game played with Scrabble pieces.  We played it with Scrabble pieces before someone gifted us the game.  In this game, each player has a pile of tiles to make their own word grid.  Thanks to our enthusiasm for this game, my preschool son is now totally into spelling too.  We take these tiles with us on trips and pull them out for fun family time. 

What games does your family love?  How do your children love learning language?

Bananagram Camping

Homemade Chalk

It is amazing all the fun we have with homemade chalk.  We use what we have at home for this craft, along with a box of Plaster of Paris (recipe on the box).  We gather an old plastic mixing bowl and wooden spoon, water, yogurt tubs, and a friend's unwanted powdered tempera paint.  My children add the colors for our concoctions.  We have yet to save a bounty for gifts, as we use everything we make.  One downside to this activity is that the used chalk (paint and plaster) are simply washed down into the storm drains with rain water.  We use the chalk in dryer seasons, meaning the water is sent to a treatment plant instead of backing up with heavy rains into local streams.  

My children and I recently noticed when bubble blowing solution is spilled on the grass, it drowns and kills the worms and other creatures living there.  Since then we have been paying more attention to how our choices effect living creatures.  We now only use our bubbles and chalk on the concrete driveway so as not to harm any of our creatures.  We really enjoy mixing up colors, talking about plaster's chemical reactions, and experimenting with its density and water plaster ratio.

What are some of your favorite outdoor crafts?

variety of chalk containers

creating a colorful labyrinth center

Hannah's chalk mountain

Liam's quick trick chalk stack

Daily Appreciations

Today I appreciate many things.  I appreciate the sunshine, the white wispy clouds, the gentle breeze.  I appreciate buying a family-size popcorn and then my sweat-dripping son sleeps on my shoulder.  I am entertained by walking and carrying my hot son and the buttery treat.  I appreciate my daughter dropping upside down onto the car floor in rush hour traffic.  (Less snack, more space for dinner, right?)  And the potty issues that occurred simultaneously (unrelated to popcorn).  I appreciate the big laughter that followed.  I enjoyed the sound of popping popcorn the vacuum cleaner made as it sucked up the mess.  I appreciate retelling these adventures and laughing again. 

I appreciate knowing that after one more busy day, my children and I look forward to a couple easier days near home.  I am thankful for the friends we've made and the trains we've ridden during this busy week.  I love watching children run through the sprinkler.  I appreciate my small financial conundrum has worked itself out.  I appreciate that my financial conundrums are usually small.  I appreciate talking to a loving friend on the telephone.  I appreciate my children's spaghetti-splattered cheeks. 

I appreciate this time alone to sit quietly and reflect upon my life of abundance and the gratitude that surrounds me.  I appreciate that one reader read this and shared their own appreciations in the comments.  What a beautiful day in all its details.  Thank you for sharing it with me.

my growing children

Science Time

Science is important in our lives.  It helps us learn about plants, animals, our bodies, baking, and chemical reactions.  Here are some photos of experiments we found in workbooks, library books, and our own imaginations.  One of our favorites (so fun we didn't photograph it) is to play with a cornstarch water mixture for hours!  How do you enjoy learning science with your children?

Hannah is rolling a cylinder with one paper, holding it in place with a rubber band, and stacking on heavy books...
until it collapses.

What fun!
Building an igloo with a mold and sugar water

Vinegar and baking soda in a jar with a balloon on top

Exploring air pressure

Dancing raisins bathing in carbonated soda
We love cake chemistry!

Dying celery pink and creating crackly string with baking soda water, cotton string, and two cups