Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let it Snow!

It snowed all afternoon and evening yesterday.  We awoke to 8" of fresh powder.  In a normal year we are lucky to get and inch or two that lasts for a day before turning to rain again.  It is rare to have wintry weather like this for so long.  Everything is covered in white and that excitement is in the air.  We are hunkered down and enjoying a quiet Sunday at home together.  
Here are a few photos from this morning.

Snow on dried lily stems

Annika eating snow - again

Clematis Cap

Snow on Bird Bath

Looking up into the Deodora - red, green and white

Bird footprints

Cat Footprints

We got to watch our red-breasted sapsucker at work today.  We sat only a few feet away, and quietly watched it feeding.  Annika wanted to hold it.  We could hear the soft pecking noises and the scratch of its claws on the tree bark.  A few times it made an alarm call, which sounded like a dog's squeaky toy.  It made Annika laugh.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What we've been up to this week...

I've been taking pictures all week and meaning to post, but somehow by the evening I don't feel like it, and need to work on the handmade gifts I am madly crafting before the Big Day. So here is the condensed version of our week.

We had snow last weekend.  Then the weather got clear and cold, some days not even making it above freezing.  We had school delays in the beginning of the week.  This rock was interesting to me.  It is in the front yard at Gabriel's school.  I don't think I noticed it before, but with the snow all around it I could see the pretty designs in the stone.

Annika will not stop eating snow.  She is obsessed with it.  It took us forever to get to school and back, because she keeps reaching down and grabbing snow to munch on.

We finally got our Christmas Tree Tuesday evening.  Gabriel really wanted a two-foot tree that was just his size.  I wanted a big one that almost touched the ceiling.  We compromised.  It smells wonderful.  The kids decorated the tree the next night all by themselves.  I put the lights on, and they went to town on the decorations.  I just sat back and watched as they picked out the straw ornaments I brought back from my semester in Vienna in 1990.  They also picked out the ornaments that they have made or that were given to them.  Because the tree is small, we only put some of the ornaments up this year.  But it is special, because they cared so much about the ones they were placing.  Gabriel put up the angel he made in preschool a few years ago.  It is made from a paper plate, and most of the glittery details have fallen off.  I don't care if it's tacky, or if the ornaments aren't spaced artfully all around the tree.  I love our tree this year.
This is what it looked like outside while we were decorating.

On Thursday the kids and I walked up the street to the park behind the school, where we did some sledding.  The kids had fun.  It snowed the whole time we were out.  The hills are small and short, but enough for the little ones to feel like they are going fast.  I felt fine letting them go down by themselves and trudge back up the hill themselves.  I mostly watched and chatted with the other parents, though I did go down a few times, too.

Today we watched a red-bellied sapsucker working on our deodora cedar in the front yard.  This photo is taken through a window with a point-and shoot, so it's not the greatest, but if the bird comes back tomorrow, I'll try to get outside and get another shot.  The bird was drilling holes in the bark to get to the sap.  I haven't seen this species in our yard before, so it was fun to identify it, observe it throughout the morning, and learn a bit about its habits.  We pulled out the Sibley Guide, which gives more information than the Peterson Guide.  The kids and Aaron all enjoyed the bird, which makes me so happy.  My little naturalist family!

We have more snow tonight, a light, dry, powdery snow that nevertheless in relentless and thick.  It is filling in all the footprints from the past few days, and covering over the grasses and bushes that had begun to peek out from the last snowfall.  I look forward to seeing what the morning light brings us.  Then it should warm up over the next week.  That's good, because the ice is making it difficult for everyone.  But sometimes I wish we lived somewhere that got snow for more than a few days each winter.   Of course, then I'd have to learn to drive in it...  I guess the rain isn't so bad after all.

Stay safe and warm everyone.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Cookies

We managed to squeeze in some cookie making this weekend.  I searched the internet to find some recipes for wheat-, dairy-, corn- and soy-free cookies.  I decided to try this recipe from The CELIAC web site.  They turned out pretty good.  They are sweet enough to eat on their own, but would be nice with some frosting.  I want to try making some corn-free powdered sugar to make frosting. This is our first year trying to get through the holidays on restricted diets.  It is challenging, but I am so thankful for the internet, which makes finding alternative recipes easier. 

Gabriel helped me with making the dough, and was involved in cutting out most of the cookies.  Annika got to cut out a few, too.  They baked up quickly.  Once again, the only reason we did this was because Gabriel begged me over and over.  I feel like it would be so easy for me to skip a lot of these traditional activities.  Having a child who cares, and who thrives on the traditions and special activities of each season really helps keep me moving and forces me to make the extra effort.  I am glad to have cookies to snack on, and I enjoy the memories we create.  

In Memory

In Memory...

Of our Angel Baby
And all the other babies 
we know only in spirit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Light a Candle

I'd like to tell you about an event coming up tomorrow.  At 7pm, whatever time zone you're in, you are invited to light a candle for an hour in remembrance of children who have died.  Imagine, a wave of light continuing all around the world, shining brightly so we don't forget the babies or children who are no longer with us.  This moment of remembrance is sponsored by Compassionate Friends.  I am not a part of the organization, but I plan on participating.  Three and a half years ago I had a miscarriage.  I had a hard time figuring out how to grieve the baby that barely existed.  This seems like a good idea that is comfortable to me.  If you're interested, you can go here for more information.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Ships

Last Monday we met some friends in Edmonds for the annual Christmas Ship viewing and caroling.  It was a brisk evening, but thankfully dry.  We all walked out onto the fishing pier and snagged a spot at the railing overlooking the Sound.  The pier quickly filled up as people gathered.  A little after 7pm we heard the music broadcast from the lighted ship, and it sailed into view.  The ship stopped in front of the pier, and we were treated to a 20 minute concert by a chorale from Everett (I've forgotten the name of the group.)  The concert ended with caroling.  Gabriel enjoyed it, and asked if we could come again next year.  He also liked hanging out with two of his friends.  We walked back to the car and blasted the heater to warm up.  I made cocoa for the kids when we got home.  

I'm thankful I have a family to share traditions like this.  My son finds comfort in this kind of yearly tradition.  I remember before I had children, I wistfully imagined what it would be like, yearning to build memories like this with my future kids.  Now I have my little family, and it takes effort to pull myself out of the myopia of daily survival to do these little things that make our family special.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Walk at the Arboretum

I took Annika for a walk to the Arboretum last Friday.  I used to get outside so much more when I just had one child at home, but Annika has missed out on some of the activities that Gabriel enjoyed.  So, off we went for an outing that I could do with my still-healing ankle.

We watched the ducks, watched the airplanes fly over, enjoyed the fresh air, and even got to observe a bald eagle perched in a tree.  It was so nice to be out again and clear the cobwebs. If you want to read the whole report and see all the photos, go here.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Did It

I did it.  I finally submitted my first essay for possible publication in a magazine.  I won't hear back for awhile if it gets accepted or not, but it feels so good to take this big step.  I feel like A Real Writer, even though I haven't been published.  I celebrated and bought myself a new pen.  Nothing expensive, just a gesture to reward myself.

I'm working on another essay to send out to a different publication.  It's hard to find the time to connect two thoughts together, but I am finding it rewarding to have projects to work on that are just my own.  When I made the decision to stay home as a mother, I thought that should be reward enough.  But recently I admitted to myself that "just" being a mom wasn't quite enough.  I needed a career of some sort to pursue.  Many things happened to help me along and encourage me in the direction of writing.  My husband bought me a laptop, and so many people gave me advice and have helped me get to this point.  

So that's why I haven't posted much of interest lately.  I am behind in things I've wanted to share with you.  I'll try to catch up over the next few days.  I'm trying to get into the swing of Christmas preparations, too.  So much to write, so little time!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Thirty

Well, it is fitting that my Thirty Days of Thanksgiving happened to end on the actual holiday.  I did hope to be able to do this little assignment in October, completely, but I like how it turned out this way.  I've enjoyed the exercise to find something every day to be thankful for.  I was a bit ashamed, though, at how difficult it was some days to figure out something unique to post about.  Am I really that ungrateful?  I don't know, but I do know I have room to grow in my character and what I choose to focus my thoughts on.

Today I am thankful for so much.  Topping the list, of course, is my family that I get to spend time with.  I am grateful to have a family, to have incredible parents, a loving husband, and two amazing children.  We have material blessings, educations, countless opportunities to learn and follow our passions.  

I think it is fitting to end my 30 day series with this quote that I have on my kitchen window to remind me how to change my perspective and choose what to focus on.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Contemplate beauty in the world around you, and you yourself will become beautiful. -- J. Donald Walters 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-nine

I am thankful to have had the chance to work outside in the sunshine this afternoon.  We don't get very many sunny days this time of year, and lately my luck has been that I have had other obligations during the sunniest times.  I just did some tidying up in the front, but I took a few moments to rest in the middle of my work and walk around with the camera.  I like to record what is happening throughout the seasons.  When I am old and grey, if we still live in this house, my vision is to have a record of the years as they have passed.  

This garden was an untended blank yard with a few trees and scraggly bushes when we moved in.  During the past 5 1/2 years that we have lived here, I have been working in fits and starts to make it beautiful and fitting to my personality.  This is the first time I have had a place that was all my own to work on.  It is overwhelming at times, especially when you throw kids into the mix.  But I am reminded whenever I take the time to work on the garden, how much I enjoy it and how fulfilling the labors are.  

Following are some of the photos I captured today.  The light was golden at the end of the afternoon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-eight

I love to see my guys having guy time together.  Today, Aaron took Gabriel along for choir practice, and when it turned out it was canceled, they had a morning of exploring parts of the city.  They saw the troll under the Fremont Bridge, touched the vintage equipment at Gasworks Park, and had lunch out.  They got to talk about their favorite things together.  Gabriel loves spending time with his Daddy, and I am grateful that Aaron will take the time to bond and create memories with our little guy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-seven

I am thankful for the spirituality of young children.  

Last Sunday, Gabriel wanted to take my giant study Bible with him to church, and was upset that I wouldn't let him.  So I pulled out one of our extra generic Bibles to give to him.  I was going to get him something like that for Christmas, but since it was so important to him, I decided to let him have one now.  He reads it by himself every day.  We haven't told him to do this; he figured it out on his own.  He underlines passages and puts notes in the margins, just like he sees us doing in our Bibles.  I showed him a few parts he might be interested in, or that would be easier reading (he was reading in Kings or Chronicles or Numbers or some difficult section), but otherwise he has been taking this project up on his own.

Today we brought one of his friends home with us from school until his mom could get here, since she was running late.  They walked behind me a few steps, and I could hear their conversation.  Gabriel was telling J that he was incorrect about a Bible verse J had told him about a week or two ago.  Gabriel told him how it was really supposed to go.  I think the subtleties were lost on J, but then they were moving on to compare the sizes and coolness of their Bibles they each had.  These kids go to a public school, so I think it's neat that they talk about their spiritual life with each other on their own, as un-selfconscious as if they were talking about toys or tv shows.  

Then, this evening, Gabriel finished his homework and got some paper out.  I thought he was drawing or simply procrastinating about going to bed, but he was working on writing a "scroll" for himself.  It said something like "Rule 1: Obey God." and "The Golden Rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated."  I am paraphrasing here, since he's got the scroll in bed with him tonight.  He rolled it up and put paper clips on the edges to keep it in a cylinder shape.  

How did my son get to be so spiritual?  We don't even do all the things we "should" be doing to train him in the way we would like him to go.  He asks tons of questions, though, and we've had so many deep discussions about all kinds of topics, ever since he could put sentences together.  How does he effortlessly weave his spiritual thoughts and conversations into his life, friendships, and artwork?  I am humbled and a little afraid of the responsibility we have as parents to shepherd this little guy to adulthood, with the best foundation for his life.  It seems a lot simpler to teach basic manners than spiritual depth, and it is easy to let the God-focus slip for weeks at a time in the busyness of daily life.  I hope and pray that Gabriel will keep his thirst for knowledge, and not grow too cynical as he ages.  And I wonder, as I have since he was conceived, what he is going to be like when he grows up.....  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Catching Up

I haven't felt much like writing here lately.  I've been writing in my journal, writing about my morning devotionals, writing about my therapy sessions, and writing to try to get a freelancing career going.  It seems I don't have much left for writing here.  Now I'm feeling kind of guilty. I haven't kept up on my 30 days of Thanksgiving at all.  It is going to be the actual holiday soon!  

Here are some photos from the past few weeks:

We went to the aquarium one day. Annika's favorite part was the octopus.
Here she is climbing on the beautiful sea otter carving:

I've done some baking.  Annika loves to help.  She gets up to her elbows in flour.

We tried a new recipe for us out of Bette Hagman's Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread book.  It uses sorghum flour as the base.  It turned out pretty good:

I taught Gabriel how to use the index in his new Usborne children's atlas, and he loves to look up places now: countries, continents, states or cities.
 I couldn't figure out how to explain looking up names in alphabetical order, but he has a lot of persistence and can usually find what he wants.

Gabriel also has been imitating experiments he has been doing in school. You can't see very well, but he is wearing his white science coat from his dress-up box. He did some sink-float experiments in various iterations. He tried toys, craft items, and spices from the cupboard.
He even cleaned up (most) of his mess without me asking him. He took a bunch of photos, and stuck with it for quite awhile. So cool!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-six

Today while I was at the store, I ran into a lady who had come one or two of my hikes last summer.  I lead hikes for a local parks department.  Most of the hikes are for women, and I strive to make the atmosphere calming and relaxing.  I give the gals time to meditate, and encourage everyone to notice the natural world we are surrounded by.  Anyway, my former client had high praises for my program, and told me how much she appreciated my leadership style and the way the trips went.  She felt comfortable and safe on my trip, while she hadn't felt the same on another trip with different people.  

It was truly gratifying to know that my hard work and planning paid off.  I had a vision for what I wanted to do with these hikes, but I didn't know if I could pull it off.  It is neat to see that I was able to make a positive impact in someone's life.  It feels like there are so few times I am able to translate my idealistic ideas into a practical plan.  I look forward to refining my program next year.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lost Tooth

Yesterday I promised you a picture of Gabriel's missing tooth.  Here it is!

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-five

I am thankful this evening because I got out of the house for a bit to write.  I got the kids to bed after dinner and left them at home with hubby, and went to a coffee shop for some mint tea.  I put my headphones in so I couldn't hear all the juicy, gossipy conversations happening around me.  I neglected my email, refused to surf the web, and was able to focus for a whole hour on analyzing a magazine and brainstorming about my writing.  It was awesome!  I feel invigorated and hopeful.  I have more clarity and perspective about what I want to do next. Nevermind all the chores I left undone this evening; they'll still be waiting for me tomorrow.  Now, when is the next time I can get away.....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-four

I am thankful, in a bittersweet way, for being able to watch two special children grow up.  Today Gabriel lost his first tooth.  He's been working at it for awhile.  Yesterday morning he tried to open the toothpaste with his two bottom front teeth (which were both loose), and really loosened one of them.  It bled some, and hurt, and he cried and had a hard time eating throughout the day.  He is a sensitive, emotional little guy.  We tried to tell him that the only way it was going to get better was if it came out, but he was scared.  I remember those times as a child, really wanting that tooth out, but being too afraid to yank it.

Well, today after lunch, he realized his tooth was gone.  It was nowhere to be found.  We are pretty certain that it came out in his food and went down the hatch.  He was upset that he wouldn't be able to leave it for the tooth fairy and get money (how do kids learn these stories??) but Grandma gave him the idea to draw a picture of his tooth and leave it under his pillow.  The tooth fairy snuck in at some point this evening and left a gold coin for Gabriel.  Oh my, was he entranced and impressed.  He declared that he was not going to spend it ever, and it was going to go into his box of special things.  This black box with silver trimmings has a combination lock on it, and is one of his most treasured possessions.  

He confided in me this evening as we were discussing the several "accidents" he had tonight, that it is hard growing up.  I told him I understood; it is hard to have to take more responsibility, to watch your body change and feel out of control about it.  I wanted to cry myself when he said that to me.  I am learning that watching our children grow and enter new phases is one of those heartbreaking yet completely necessary tasks of motherhood.  Gabriel has changed so much since he entered first grade a few short months ago.  I almost feel like this phase rivals the babyhood phase in terms of growth spurts and rapid changes.  I wish I knew more how to deal with it, and I pray I have enough love and wisdom to shepherd him along without exasperating him.

I'll try to post pics tomorrow.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-three

Well, I try to avoid politics as a rule, beyond voting.  But today how can I avoid posting about witnessing a great moment in our country's history?  I dropped my ballot off at the library and got my "I voted" sticker.  (I do miss voting at polls, though the convenience of mail-in ballots is nice.)  I listened to the radio all day, and could hardly wait until 4pm when the polls in the eastern states closed, meaning the first results could start trickling in.  I listened all evening as I cooked dinner and washed dishes.  Then I watched the national tv channels to see the maps in person and watch Obama's victory speech.  I let Gabriel stay up late to see it, and tried to explain to him how historic this night is.  I told him that when he has kids in school, they'll read about this night in their history books.  He really couldn't comprehend what I was talking about, but it was good to open up discussions of the electoral college, the history and legacy of slavery, and the amazing ways our country has changed.  I hope we'll be able to talk more about these topics in the future, and that I will be up to the task of teaching him.  It's hard to explain these complex topics to a six-year old, I admit.  

For the first time in awhile I feel hopeful about the direction our country is headed.  I am thankful I live in a place where I get to vote and have the freedom to live the kind of life I want to live.  I haven't been this excited about an election in many years.  I think I'll go write in my journal now....     

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-two

All day I had been planning to write about the bald eagle I saw this afternoon near Green Lake.  It appeared huge as it circled low over the houses and cars in the city.  It is still a thrill to see bald eagles, even though they are fairly common around here.  The feeling has stuck with me all day.

But I just had to focus on a few moments that I spent with my son this evening.  I was tucking him in to bed, and sat down with him to chat and reconnect.  I asked him about his first loose tooth.  We expect it to come out in the next day or two.  He said he is excited but a little nervous.  He also told me that Annika has been really shy in church.  She doesn't want to sing when they practice the songs they will be performing for the Christmas service.  She finds an adult to hide near, and sucks her thumb.  I suggested we might pray for her shyness, and asked if there was anything I could pray for for him.  He said he'd like to play a sport like basketball or gymnastics, so he could become good enough to win a medal at the Olympics when he is older.  He wouldn't care if it is gold or bronze, because he is really into minerals.  

It was interesting for me to hear what was on his mind.  He has not expressed much interest in learning sports, with the exception of taking Taikwando with his friend form school so he can kick and punch.  I was grateful I took the time to talk and to ask him questions.  He has always been strong in verbal communication, but I have found since he started going full time to school this fall, I have not had very much time with him to learn these sorts of things.  I was grateful I sat with him long enough to talk a bit and get a window into his life.  He's such a cool kid, and I hope we can stay close even as things get tougher in the pre-teen and teenage years.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty-one

We had a lot of fun yesterday for Halloween.  Gabriel was really into it this year.  Annika had no clue what Halloween was about, but she quickly understood it involved candy, and was gung-ho.  We were supposed to meet some friends in downtown Edmonds, where the city closes off the streets and kids get candy from the shops.  We never found our friends, and we only lasted for about a half an hour in the crowds.  It just wasn't that fun for me, having to stand in line at each door to get a piece of candy.  But it was funny watching Annika.  She dug into her candy immediately, and was eating it through the wrapper before we even noticed.  This kid has a major sweet tooth!  She was sneaky, too.  

Gabriel was a dinosaur this year.  He wanted to be a dragon, but when I showed him a few costumes we could order online, he chose the dinosaur from Magic Cabin, which I actually liked the best, too.  He'll be able to wear it for many years, and it is not a toddler costume like many of them were.  Annika picked the giraffe costume from our stash.  

It had rained all day, but by 5pm the sun was out and it was mild and pleasant outside.  After we finished in Edmonds, we came home and anxiously waited for it to get dark enough to go knock on some neighbors' doors.  Then I had the kids trade in half of their Halloween candy to me for some art supplies that I had bought instead.  I want them to be able to enjoy the holiday and have fun being a kid and eating candy, but not to go overboard.  This is the second year I've done the trade thing with Gabriel, and last year he didn't even finish all of the candy he kept.  He was just as excited to get new art supplies as he was to get candy.  But he had a hard time letting go of his sweets when it came down to it.  I had to help him through the process.  He wanted so badly to hang onto his sugary loot.  He loves his new art stuff, though, and has been busy creating since he made the trade.  

It is cool as a parent to have these fun family times together, and to create memories and traditions for our kids.    

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Twenty

I love the smell of bread baking in the oven.  We tried out a new recipe yesterday using the large squash we baked the other day.  The kids and I are intolerant of wheat, so we are trying to find alternatives to the sprouted breads we normally use.  Annika has shown an interest in "helping" me in the kitchen recently.  I remember this stage with Gabriel; trying to teach her how to measure, stir, pour, and keep from eating the flour and spreading the dough all over the counter.  I took many deep breaths to calm myself, and we got through this baking adventure fairly well.  The bread is a yeast bread from Betty Hagman's Gluten Free baking book.  I usually have to tweak the recipe in some way, and try them a few times to get them right for my oven and ingredients.  The bread smelled wonderful until it smelled like burning...I had forgotten to put tin foil on top to keep it from browning too much.  Woops!  It turned out OK, we just had to cut the crust off to eat the soft and sweet interior.  We ate almost the whole loaf that afternoon, and I made another one today.  It turned out better than the first, and we ate all but two pieces.  Gabriel even boasted that it is the only bread crust he likes.  Annika begged me to let her help bake today, but alas, it had to be done during her nap.  Oh well, I still have more squash; maybe we'll make some more bread tomorrow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving - Day Nineteen

Note: I am having issues with Blogger today, so this post is incomplete.  I'll try to figure it out and update it in the next day or two.

I am thankful for our autumn traditions.  Gabriel keeps me on my toes with our traditions.  He pesters me in every season to do those things that celebrate holidays and changing seasons.  He is good for me; he gives me incentive to make the extra effort!

One of the fall traditions we have done for several years is going to a pumpkin patch.  This year and last we went to the South 47 Farm.  They say they practice sustainable, ecologically sensitive gardening, but I don't think they are totally organic.  That's OK, the kids and I had a wonderful time Saturday.  First we fed the goats and alpacas.  The kids were so excited to see real farm animals.  There were chickens and ducks there, too, but the kids weren't so interested in them.  Gabriel loved the alpacas, but Annika was scared of them.  She preferred the goats, who were more her size.  

Then we went on a hay ride, pulled by the tractor Olivia, driven by Farmer Dave.  The kids both thought this was their favorite part.  Annika was chattering about the ride throughout the evening.  Here is Gabriel with the tractor in the background: Then we went to find out about picking apples, and walked to the far end of the farm to find the last variety of the year.  Gabriel seemed to enjoy this part.
 The apples we got were 'Gold Rush', and they are so flavorful and juicy!  They have a tartness that makes the glands at the back of my throat tingle.

After we had picked enough apples, it was finally time for the main event: pumpkins!  I let the kids each get one for carving, and we also got some decorative gourds for the table.  I picked out a few squash for cooking.  I was in love with the colors and shapes of the winter squash they had.  I wanted to choose one of each, but had to limit myself.  I wasn't sure if the kids would eat them, after all.  

The kids enjoyed the outing very much, and I was thrilled to be able to get out.  It has been 6 1/2 weeks since my surgery on my foot and ankle, and I was in some pain by the end of our time there, but we all came home with rosy cheeks and fun memories.

On Sunday I helped Gabriel carve up his pumpkin, and Annika painted hers.  I am glad I took the time to do this with the kids.  I had so many chores to do, but it was very important to Gabriel, and I think it was better in the long run to spend the extra quality time with him.  He designed hie own pumpkin, and he did most of the carving of the face himself.  Each year he can do more - pretty soon he won't need my help at all.   

I cooked up one of the squash - I can't remember the name of it, but it is an heirloom variety.  It smelled like cinnamon and allspice while it was baking.  The flesh is bright orange.  It is incredibly sweet.  After it baked I put a little bacon, green onions, and feta cheese on top.  Gabriel had seconds!  The rest I pureed and will try to get some baking done with it.  I saved some of the seeds, and I hope to plant them next spring and get some of my own.  I think it is my favorite squash I've had in a long time.  Now if I could just remember the name of it.....

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, as well.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Felt Pumpkins

Recently I was perusing some wonderful entries in the blogosphere, and found a post by Nicole on Frontier Dreams about making felted pumpkins.  It's from a magazine called Living Crafts.  The pumpkins looked really neat, and when I was at the co-op the next day, there was the magazine in the checkout line.  I looked at the instructions, and thought I could probably do the project, so the magazine came home with me.  We've never tried felting before, so I had to get the materials for it.  I finally got to a yarn store on Monday.  Annika helped me pick out the colors to use.  Of course, I forgot one crucial ingredient, and had to go again the next day to get it, and then on Tuesday we were able to make the pumpkins.  

We started by rolling the wool roving around a ball.  Then we tied the string around it to make the pumpkin segments and keep it together.  We did the wet felting in the bathtub.
 Next time we felt I think I will use the sink or a washbasin, because it was hard for the kids to bend down and reach into the bathtub.  Annika kept threatening to fall in.  We didn't have a washboard, so I used a broiler pan and a cookie rack.  The broiler pan worked best.  The kids liked playing in the soapy water.  I was having my doubts at this point, because the pumpkins looked like drowned orange hairballs.  But eventually they began to take shape.      

A little rinsing was next, then forming the stem.  We put the pumpkins in the dryer for a few minutes, then took them out when they were mostly dry.  They turned out a little lumpy, but the are cute.  We cut the tops off and I sewed the stems on.  They now reside in a place of honor on the dining room table.

Gabriel took his pumpkin to school on Wednesday, and I heard that it was a hit.  All the kids were entranced by it, and kept asking how it was made.  I think more felt crafts are in our future!