Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moving On...Very Soon!

This past Thursday marked five weeks before our move.  Six weeks sounded like plenty of time.  Five weeks sounds like "Holy crap!!!  We better start packing!!!".  Maybe it seemed extra urgent because we had just spent the previous three days in our soon to be home.  We've had three visits since finding out we would be moving there and with each one our excitement grows.  We cannot believe we are going to be so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place, so close to family, and in such an ideal place to raise our family.

On our trip there, we stopped at Spring Valley Orchard.  It's a little off the interstate, but completely worth the detour.  The valley the orchard is in (by far) the most beautiful place I've ever seen in Virginia.  The kids and I stopped there once last year and I had my fingers crossed we would make it back again this year before the season ended.  I think the day we were there may have ended up being the last for the year, but there were still tons of cherries on the trees.

Mannchen absolutely loved it!  He was in heaven climbing the trees to reach the higher cherries.

I cannot believe how quickly this little boy is growing.

Töchterchen mostly wandered around barefoot, delighting in squishing the fallen cherries with her feet.

Looking down the road into the valley.  Pictures cannot do it justice.

Apples trees and the valley.
While we were in town, we took care of all the important things like a job interview, setting up utilities, and hanging out at the park across the street from our new home.  My aunt and uncle from Houston, TX were visiting also and it was great to see them.  One morning we went to the horticulture gardens at Tech.  The kids loved the fish pond and all the colorful flowers.  I delight in their delight of nature.

It went by quickly, but mostly helped build our excitement.  Moving can be so bittersweet and we are thankful to be moving to a place we are excited for.
Since getting home it's been a mix of getting back to normal life, catching up on laundry, making butter for the first time, baking with the buttermilk left over from the said butter, and starting on the never ending lists of all things that must be done before we leave.

Friday, June 28, 2013

To My Love

Five years ago Justin and I stood in front of those dearest in our lives and pledged to love one another until death do us part.  It's been an eventful five years and I wouldn't trade all that's happened for the world.  Life's greatest blessings have come to us during this time - two precious kids and a constantly growing love for one another.  I am so happy to spend the rest of my life loving this man.

Hubby and I wrote our own vows to one another.  We kept them posted in our bedroom until we had to put the house on the market and the stager removed them.  I can't wait to move and put them back up.

To Hubby:
I take you, Justin, as my husband because you are my best friend, my one true love.  I cannot promise you perfection.  However, from this day forward I can promise to love and be faithful to you as long as I live.  I promise to be your lover and confidant, to laugh and cry with you, to support your hopes and dreams, and to fall in love with you over and over.  I promise to build a warm and loving home with you, and to never go to bed with anger in my heart towards you.

To me:
Emily, I can't give you everything you want, but as your husband, I can promise these few things to you.  I promise to always love you, be open and honest with you, and forever be faithful to you.  I promise to make you and our marriage my top priority, and I know by doing these things we can accomplish more together than either of us could alone.  And finally, above all others, I take you just the way you are.  I love you with all of my heart Em.

Happy anniversary to my love.  I love you more and more each day.  Thank you for this life we get to share.

{ this moment }

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. 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

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Gnome Home

Since the backyard fairies have been given a cozy spotMännchen decided we must do the same for the gnomes.  He had a few more opinions about what the gnomes would need.
We started with this old piece of log left over from a maple tree that had to be cut down last year.  I made a clay door, windows, and chimney with nails attached to the back.  Männchen helped drill holes into the log and then we glued the pieces into place by gluing the nails into the holes.  I glued them in because I didn't want the kids taking them on and off, running around the yard with clay pieces armed with sharp nail points.

Next I made the gnomes a table and two chairs from small sticks we gathered on a hike.  The gnomes and fairies will eventually have a shared garden, so we started them off with garden fare - cabbage and carrots.

Männchen requested the gnomes have more mushrooms and their own birdbath.  They also have a green birdhouse sitting atop the gnome home, near the chimney.

The entire set-up!  So far the kids have been enjoying moving the pieces around.  The fairies and gnomes seem to be doing a good job of sharing!
Linking up with Frontier Dreams and The Magic Onions this week.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Celebrating the Summer Solstice

"Remember that, with young children, the preparation for the
festival - the baking, making special presents, decorating, and
singing special songs year after year - is as important as the celebration itself. 
Be sure to include your children in all of the preparation activities"
-Rahima Baldwin Dancy in "You Are Your Child's First Teacher"
The past two weeks we have been preparing for the summer solstice. 
First we made handprint suns.  Last year we made painted suns and handprint sunflowers.  This year we combined the two crafts into this one.  On Monday (painting day) of last week we painted with yellow and orange watercolors.  Once dry, I cut their paintings into circles for the center of our suns.  On Thursday morning (crafting day) the kids made red, yellow, and orange handprints on brown wrapping paper.  Once they dried I cut them out - they are still too young to handle that much precise cutting.  After naptime they glued their handprints to the water colored circles.  I have really worked on providing an example by working alongside them, but otherwise backing off and letting them create however their creative genius strikes.  They did a stellar job of following my model on this particular project - other times they make equally adorable, but otherwise unrecognizable, renditions of what I had in mind.  I am learning to let go of "perfect" products and embracing their enjoyment of the process and fostering a love of creativity.  I really want their projects to truly be their own. 
Mama's crafts - sunflower peg doll and sun gnome.  We have space for a nature table upstairs, but in the summer months we aren't in the playroom at all.  The great outdoors provide all the playspace we desire.  I've started putting a few favorite pieces on the dining room table.  I look forward to establishing a larger, more central, nature table after we move.

My favorite peg doll yet!  Yes, I totally copied the one I saw on Painting Pixie's etsy shop. 
Someone else likes it too!

Wet felted Sun doily. 

Yesterday, we made a wet felted doily for the dining room table.  Instructions can be found here.  The short of it is to lay out your wool on bubble wrap, sprinkle it with warm soapy water, roll up the bubble wrap and work it in your hands until it felts together.  Periodically, unroll the bubble wrap and sprinkle on more soapy water.  Now we have something bright and sunny for our summer flower vase to sit on.  This particular type of wet felting was great for children as young as ours.  We have attempted a few other wet felting projects, but they just weren't quiet ready for the process yet.  I highly recommend this as a way to introduce them to the process.  This was the first time they really got into it and I let them take charge, to again really make it their own creation.

We also have been singing "You Are My Sunshine" regularly and the poems/drawings on our kitchen chalkboard have been centered around the Sun/Solstice/Mid-Summer's Night.  

This week's drawing and poem.  My apologies if it is a bit difficult to read, I forgot to take a picture several days ago when I first completed it - it's a little smudged up now.

Today is (was) the solstice.  The plan was to make s'mores using the firepit, blow bubbles, and let the kids stay up EXTRA late to catch fireflies with a few friends.  However, Mother Nature had a different plan.  The firepit plan was rained out so we instead had an indoor pizza party with friends and put the playroom to good use.  I was a bit disappointed about having to skip the firepit and outdoor activities, but there's nothing we can do to control the weather.  Last year we had to skip the firepit on the summer solstice because it was far too hot outside, even after the sun went down.  Eventually we will get a chance to celebrate the sun in that way! 
How do you celebrate the summer solstice?
Linking up this week with The Magic Onions, Crafty Moms Share , and Natural Suburbia.

{ this moment }

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. 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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Peter (and us!) in Blueberry Land

Today was one of those amazing summer days that you hope to never forget.  Hubby and I woke up early and made breakfast to go and a picnic lunch.  We had the kids' clothes sitting out and we were dressed, full of coffee, and ready to go before they were up.  When they came downstairs we quickly dressed them and told them we were going on an adventure!
We drove to College Run Farms in Surry to pick blueberries.  It's close to an hour drive, so for entertainment I brought along a "clue" to what our adventure would be.  Months ago I purchased "Peter in Blueberry Land" by Elsa Beskow and earlier this week I made a few peg dolls and blueberry bushes to go with the story.  The kids always get so into the stories when they have characters to hold while I read.  Plus it gives them something to relive the tale with in the play later.  Once breakfast was finished and they were getting restless, I broke out the book and characters and that entertained them the rest of the way.  Well, that and all the fields of corn.  Mannchen loves corn and he told us he couldn't wait to eat all the corn we passed.
Peter, two blueberry boys, and two blueberry bushes.
 When we got there the kids had it figured out and were so excited to pick blueberries!  Töchterchen's picking style closely resembles that of Sal in "Blueberries for Sal" (oops!...should have grabbed that book for the ride also).  Mannchen is an excellent picker and he was my picking buddy for the morning.  Hubby had to float back and forth between picking and playing with Töchterchen...which eventually turned into buying her homemade ice cream (at 9:30am, no less) to keep her occupied while we finished up.

She loved running down the rows of the blueberry patch.

On the way home we drove took the ferry and stopped at Jamestown Beach for a picnic.  It was a great, quiet little beach on the river.  We wish we had known about it before so we could have brought bathing suits.  We are planning to go back again soon.

After that we took a drive around Jamestown Island (need to go back again soon to walk around the archeological site) and took the Colonial Parkway part of the way home.  It's wonderful how rich this area is with history.  Now that we are finally getting to the point when day trips are more manageable, we're about to move.  We are hoping to pack in as much "sight-seeing" as we can in the next month.

On Jamestown Island we stopped to walk out to Black Point - the first part of the island seen by the European settlers.  There was a sign that we may be able to see Bald Eagles and their nests.  We didn't see any at Black Point, but we did see one while driving on the parkway (thanks to Mannchen's sharp eyesight).
Töchterchen was starting to drag from the busy day.

But sand and water perked her back up.

Throwing rocks into the cove.

Photo courtesy of Mannchen.

Melts my heart everytime. 

 No eagles, but we did see this beautiful wood pecker.  The coloring on his head was magnificent.

 Then it was naps in the car and back home to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

All together we picked five quarts...but only four made it home.  We ate one in the car and during our picnic lunch.

MMmmm, fresh blueberries!
We used two quarts to make jam. (Recipe below)

And a few to make a snack of blueberry banana muffins.  (Recipe below)
Happy blueberry reading, picking, and eating!

Blueberry Jam
8 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cp lemon juice
9 tbsp. pectin (low or no-sugar)
1 1/2 - 3 cps sugar
Wash berries and place in a large pot with lemon juice.  Cook down some and mash with a potato masher.  Add pectin and bring to a boil, stirring/mashing constantly.  Once boiling, add sugar and return to boil.  Cook for one minute.  Pour into prepared canning jars.  Top with lids and process jars for long-term storage (or make less and store in the fridge).  Makes six 8 oz. jars.
Note - I used only 1 1/2 cps of sugar because we don't like sweet jam.  It is not very sweet and you really taste the fruit.  If you like a sweeter jam, definitely add more.
Blueberry Banana Buttermilk Muffins
1 cp flour
1/2 cp wheat flour
1/4 cp oat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cp buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
2 medium bananas, mashed
1 cp blueberries
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup mix buttermilk, egg, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients along with coconut oil and bananas.  Stir until just combined and gently fold in blueberries.  Pour into greased cupcake pan - coconut oil is great for this.  (Do not use muffin liners, they will stick.)
Bake at 375 for 14-16 minutes. 
Linking up this week with The Magic OnionsCrafty Moms Share, and Natural Suburbia.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fairy Garden

Töchterchen and I have slowly been adding to her fairy garden set-up over the spring and summer.  We started with her painted pot "house" and "swimming pool". 

Next we cut a table and chairs from a tree branch we found on a hike.

Then Männchen accidently broke a ceramic pot and I remembered an idea from Pintrest on how we could repurpose it.


 That's when things really started to take off.  Now Töchterchen's fairies are becoming quite accessorized and have a rather cozy little set-up.

Bird house and bird bath.


More mushrooms - the large one was on clearance at Target and after purchasing it, I became inspired to make our own, more to our liking.

Table set for tea and cupcakes.
Closer view of the table setting - I couldn't be more pleased with out it turned out!  Turns out the past four years of fondant/cake sculpting were just preparation for another task - sculpting teeny tiny fairy accessories!
The fairies also have a bed for resting up after all the midnight dancing in the flowers.

The whole fairy garden set-up.  I thought only Töchterchen would be interested - oh, how she loves her fairies.  But Männchen loves to get in there and play along with her.

Männchen also has a gnome home!

Check out The Magic Onions fairy garden contest!  We are participating this year.  The other participants have amazing gardens and ideas!