Monday, August 31, 2009

happy birthday, Kiki!

Even before we found out that other crazy families like ours existed (via The Creative Family), we were celebrating Kiki's birthday every year. Kiki, Elizabeth's baby blanket that has been attached to her side since birth, is the lone, non-human family member whose birthday we celebrate. Despite the fact that Elizabeth frequently reminds everyone that Kiki was waiting for her when she came out of her mommy's tummy, Kiki turned 6 yesterday. (Don't try to do the math, you'll only get confused.) As birthday's should always be celebrated with a big bash, Elizabeth decorated with scarves as banners and homemade signs and had the video camera waiting to document the merriment.

She even dedicated one of her homemade candles to the occasion. (Kiki needs a candle to blow out, don't ya know!)

Kiki had a homemade party hat, and we made Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes for the occasion.

Elizabeth and Kiki shared a cupcake.

Finn kept saying, "I don't want stirfry; I just want cupcakes." And he finally got his wish.

Kiki received some lovely homemade gifts. I smile just seeing the playsilks used as gift wrap. :)

Likewise, the old cloth diapers/burp cloths gift wrap. (Since we use gift bags instead gift wrap at our house, it doesn't seem odd to our kids that you would use what you have. I love that!)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Making new friends!

About a month ago, Cindy, over at Zach Aboard, and I discovered that her in-laws and I live in the same town. It's amazing how small the world can be, even though the blogging world often seems so large. Her family came into town for a visit this weekend, and our family was fortunate enough to be able to meet up with her and Zach at a local park that we frequent.

The kids had a great time traipsing around in the creek,

and they quickly caught Zach up to speed on searching for crawdads.

They were even lucky enough to catch one in a jar that Cindy had enough forethought to bring along.

Then, of course, the kids moved on to catching other wildlife.

Finn was just interested in ruining his wooden car in the sandy creek bottom.

They found a trail alongside the creek.

And scavenged for rocks to dam up the creek.

We had such a great time playing with and getting to know Cindy and Zach. We hope they travel down our direction for another visit very soon!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

just what he needed...

We've had a little bit of sickness in the family over the last week, and Paulie was the latest. When his fever coincided yesterday with a mild, rainy day, I decided to make a simple meal of soup and homemade bread for dinner.

With Elizabeth's handmade candles.

What kind of soup would you make for those feeling under-the-weather: "no-chicken" noodle soup, of course, since we're a veggie family.

"No-Chicken" Noodle Soup

4 carrots, diced thinly
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 strip of kombu, pinched into small pieces if the kids are going to eat it
1 qt. veggie broth
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt, or more to taste (we use Himalayan pink salt)
6 cups water
1/4-1/3 lb pasta (we used Eden Alphabet Pasta)

Simmer all ingredients except pasta for 1 hour, then add pasta and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Serve very hot.

He ate 2 full bowls after barely eating anything earlier in the day. "No-Chicken" Noodle Soup must have been just what he needed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

back to...


like riding bikes with neighborhood friends after dinner

finding treasure in the yard

visiting the neighbor's 3-month-old puppy


Too much time has passed since I last pulled out my sewing machine, but not long after buying Soulemama's Handmade Home, I was itching to get back at it. I started with a small project that only took me about 20 minutes over my lunch break today. While we were on vacation, we discovered that the cottage we were staying at did not have a skillet, and I'm not sure how to feed 10 people for a week without one, so we sent the guys on a run to find one. Paul, having heard me mention in the past wanting a cast iron skillet, came back with one, and I've been in love ever since. Seriously, why did it take me so long to jump on this train!

The two things I remember from the cast iron skillet my mom had throughout my childhood was how heavy that thing was and that the handle would get very hot! :) I decided to make a quilted handle sleeve for my new skillet à la the quilted hot pad from Handmade Home. I really love how it turned out, and it was such a quick little satisfying project. I find that crafting to fill a need frequently feels that way. And I was able to repurpose one of the terry cloth squares that I ripped up for wipes for Finn (since he's potty-trained now) to use as the middle portion of the handle sleeve. Now I only have to make 20 more to use the rest of them. ;)


Ok, so I realize that I'm a day late with my WIPs, but...ok, I have no excuse. Wait! School started; that counts, right? Anyway...

I made this little hat number while on vacation. It's actually a hurricane pattern (that swirls up toward the crown), but with the alpaca yarn, it's very subtle. Which I kind of like. :)

I'm finally starting on the hat to match Finn's vest. I can't decide whether to make it long-ish or short-ish with earflaps. Anyone have a vote?

I'm also still working on Elizabeth's blanket. And I'm a little bit ready for it to be done.

Apparently, I was remiss in leaving out the portion of our vacation that involved spending lots of time in pottery shops. Ok, it was mostly just one pottery shop. Jenni and I snuck out a few times and left the 6 kids with the menfolk. There were a few incredible finds, including one that I'll save for another day when the kids can demonstrate and I can explain in detail (are you curious now?) This adorable lidded crock was actually broken in with baked sweet potatoes while on vacation.

The following candlestick, with it's beautiful glaze, was purchased as a reminder of someone special who was born and passed two years ago next week. We intend to burn a candle in his memory here every year.

This is an old piece of pottery that I've had for a while. But how cute is it that Finn needed to put his green grapes in his green pottery because "they are the same."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What we're reading...

I haven't spotlighted what we've been reading lately so I thought I'd take a few minutes to do just that.

While we were on vacation last week, I bought Paulie this book called The Lemonade War simply because the themes of the book were sibling competition, money and business, themes that resonate as typical Paulie. He enjoyed it so much that he read it twice while we were gone. Apparently there's also a teacher's guide if anyone's interested, but unfortunately, it's the author's only book to date. We'll be keeping an eye out for more.

Now that school's in, he's back to reading A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which he started earlier in the summer. These books (including Wrinkle in Time) don't seem to inspire him too much, despite the fact his dad remembers loving them as a kid. He's all about getting the AR (accelerated reader) points at school though, so he'll read it anyway.

As a family, we're reading The Mysterious Benedict Society as of late. I tried for most of last year to get Paulie to read this book after hearing such great reviews, but he wasn't interested in the super thick book he knew nothing about. :) Now that we're reading it together as a family, he, and his siblings, love the storyline as much as I hoped they might. They really enjoy hearing about the different puzzles that the main character solves and I enjoy the robust vocabulary. (I'm a fan of children's books that seem to think outside the typical vernacular.)

Elizabeth, after reading the other books in Judy Blume's Fudge series earlier this summer, picked up Double Fudge this week as her first "school book". She barely put it down this morning to get ready for school, which has been typical for her with this whole series. Pesky little brothers is a topic very familiar to her!

Philip has been stretching his emerging reading skills on some early readers. He particularly likes the silly ones. I mean, who couldn't love a face like Buttercup's?! The repitition and occasional new words are working well for him, and I know he's just going to burst forth this year and start reading everything in sight.

Finn has been interested in a couple of different series lately, but none quite as much as the Snipp, Snapp, Snurr books. (I can't tell you how delighted I am with that, by the way.) With their wonderful illustrations from the 30s and 40s, they are a feast for the eyes as well as the ears with their subjects about sewing clothes and milking cows as a part of every day life. I've already ordered a few more for Finn's birthday/Christmas so I hope his interest holds!

What have you been reading lately?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And so it begins...

Elizabeth saw a rainbow on her way out the door, so she's convinced it's going to be an exceptionally good year.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer vacation '09, continued

In addition to spending time in the local mountain habitats, we also made some time for crafting. The favorite candlemaking activity came along with us and the mountains even inspired new creativity in the candle decorations.

Charlie's first experience making candles seemed to be a good one.

Paulie made a bird candle,

and Philip made a squirrel.

We also made plenty of time for walks and gathering wildflowers. This bunch came with a hitchhiker that completely blended into the white petals...until he ventured out.

Plenty of time was spent stacking and playing cards and other games as well.

We made the trip into Asheville one day and visited the earth science museum, among other things. The older kids completed the scavenger hunt,

while Finn spent most of his time running out of the mine yelling, "Fire in the hole!"

We found a fountain to play in,

then soaked up some warmth and the sights of downtown.

Another day we made another trip back to Pisgah National Forest to see Looking Glass Falls.

And we figured while we were there, we might as well slide down the famous Sliding Rock. The slide on this waterfall is 60 feet long and lands in an 8 ft deep pool at the bottom.

Kids under 7 have to slide with an adult so Philip and I slid together.

The littles (and Elizabeth, who decided that a 60 ft slide into freezing water wasn't her cup of tea) waited on a safer rock nearby.

Once the boys were sufficiently hypothermic, we headed back toward the cabin, by way of a rainstorm picnic and more ice cream at Dolly's.

We did manage to find a few interesting rocks while we were out.

And we even decided to felt a few.

Thus endeth summer vacation starts tomorrow so there's never a dull moment around here!