Herbs and Globes!

Here is a peek of how our day has been…

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Not all that long ago I found an antique globe at a local thrift store, and thought it would be a nice thing for my son to have. He’s had it for a couple of weeks, sitting on the top of his dresser, as a nice little decoration. Well, much to my surprise, Lincoln calls out for the globe (“Obe!Obe!”) and places it on his bed, and then very intently, starts slowly spinning and looking over the globe. All of the sudden, he points and gets really excited!! I take a look, and what do you know!?! He’s located and pointed out Louisiana!! I was so shocked I ran and grabbed my video camera and kept shouting, “show me again! show me again!” I’m thinking… maybe my mother showed him our home state on the globe when I wasn’t paying attention?!?! But, WOW, for a 23 month old to grab the globe, search and locate our little bitty state all on his own without any help…! Lets just say I’m one proud momma!!!!

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We’ve also been into herbs lately! Well, more than usual! I’m always reading and researching everything herbal, but today we got our hands dirty. My 4 little baby chicks LOVE basil and oregano. I feed it to them throughout the day, and the second my hand goes in the box, my chicks are scurrying around and chasing each other trying to steal and nab the herb pieces from one another. its like mini chicken football!! Here’s a short vid!

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My little man is all about tugging on, smelling and tasting (then spitting out!) my little potted herb plants.

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Here a a few that i currently have on my window sill: Basil, rosemary, oregano, and an aloe plant. Nothing brings a smile in  the morning like cute little potted plants to greet me each morning.

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What about you? Have any sweet window sill plants you just love and adore?! Have a lovely day, everyone!

Backyard Chickens – Bringing Home Baby Chicks

I’ve been pining over having baby chicks in my backyard for as long as I’ve had a backyard to call my own…
It’s been 5 years now since I’ve purchased my home and I’ve finally decided to take the leap.

The only problem… I live in a neighborhood that has a Home Owners Association that forbids any type of farm animal. Ek!
After much consideration, research, and chatting with other chicken owners, I decided to launch Operation Backyard Coop Hush-Hush! Much to most peoples surprise, chickens are actually quite quiet. In fact, I’ve spoken with several backyard chicken owners that have neighbors that are completely oblivious to the fact that they have feathered next-door neighbors. After hearing that, it was Green-Light for the chickens!
(Baby chicks, on the other hand, can get pretty loud with their chirping and peeping, but it only lasts a few weeks and the chicks have to remain indoors in the warmth, so its unlikely your neighbors will ever hear a peep! ;)

Meet my peeps: Lucy, Ethel, and Ruby!

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Lucy  and Ethel are Rhode Island Reds. I named them so, as Lucy has a slightly reddish beak, is a bit smaller and is quite the peppy one!! Ethel, being Lucy’s twin, is the biggest of the three, quite a bit less active, and is perfect as Lucy’s sweet little sidekick! I chose to have 2 Rhode Island Red hens because a friend of mine highly recommended the breed due to the high yield egg laying! She said that her RIR hen often gives her 2 eggs each day where as most hens produce only one per day.

The pretty little multi-colored chick is an Americana! I named her Ruby because as she grows, her feathers will change and she’ll likely be a reddish hue and quite lovely.  Americana chickens are known for laying pastel colored blue, green, or pink eggs. I just had to add one of those chickens to my flock, and even more so when I arrived at the feed store and saw how unbelievably cute the baby Americana chicks are. I cant wait to see the beautiful Easter colored egg in the nesting box each day.

I also went back to my local feed store a week later and picked up a fourth chick, a Buff Orpington, after reading about their soft beautiful feathers and kind and gentle nature. I couldn’t resist! Meet Amelia!

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If you’re interested in having your own backyard chickens, here’s a bit of advice on where to start. You don’t need anything fancy! A cardboard box, a heat lamp, a water feeder, and food feeder, some chick food starter and shredded news paper. The feed stores sell pine chips if your prefer that as bedding, but the news paper works just fine for the few weeks you’ll need to keep your chicks in a brooder (aka a box) indoors. Others have suggested that you be sure to buy the specific water and food feeders rather then use small dishes or bowls, as it’ll help with less mess and spillage and also, its safer for the baby chicks. I added a little perch in the box for the chicks to practice balancing on, as I’d read somewhere that the chicks would enjoy it. All I did was poke 2 holes in the corner of the box and stuck a paint brush though. Its all I had on hand at the time and it was the perfect size for the chicks. Improvise!

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As for the heat lamp, many resources suggest a thermometer to gauge temperature for the chicks, but its not absolutely necessary. You are suppose to start at 95 degrees in the box for 1 day old chicks and decrease by 5 degrees each week. An easy way to gauge proper lamp positioning is this: place your heat lamp a foot and 1/2 above the floor of the box. Depending on how your chicks are acting you can adjust lamp positioning accordingly. If the chicks are huddled together beneath the heat source, then the lamp is to far away. Lower the lamp 2 inches and come back in 30 minutes and check again. If the chicks are distancing themselves from the lamp and laying against the walls or spreading their wings out and panting, the brooder is too hot. Place the lamp 2 inches further and check again in 30 minutes. It takes a bit of adjustment, but its important to find the appropriate temperature. Baby chicks have a hard time attaining and regulating their body heat. The goal is happy, healthy, blissful birdies!

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These two books were found at my local library and were what I referred to often when I first got the baby chicks: Chick Days – Raising Chickens from Hatchlings to Laying Hens and Fresh Eggs Daily. I LOVE Fresh Eggs Daily! Her approach to backyard chickens is so natural and lovely, sharing many homemade recipes and remedies for every day chick care, using fresh and natural herbs and foods.

One other thing!! Hold, pet, and snuggle your chicks often! They love the attention and its good for them to get used to being handled while they are still young. Sooner than you know it, you’ll have little chickens greeting you and following at your heels as you walk through your yard. They’ll definitely know who their momma and/or daddy is!

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Happy Chick-Adventures!!! And be sure to let me know if you have any feathered friends in your backyard and what you chose to name them! I love hearing all the clever and creative chicken names you guys come up with! I had thrown around a few silly names myself! Sunny, Benedict, and Omlette!! And  even Moo-Shoo, Kung-Pow, and Sweet&Sour!! lol!

P.S.- The goats I’ve been eyeing will have to wait… not to mention the jersey cow I long for! …Not so sure my neighbors could be bribed with free milk. ::sigh::

Busy Making Waldorf Dolls (And getting crafty)

I’ve been having fun making these beautiful handmade Waldorf dolls. Its my recent passion. :)

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The smiles and laughter are worth the hours (and sore fingers!)!

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The girls named them Luna and Sally!

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Of course, Pip still needs clothes… lol!

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And I’ve also been knocking out Lincoln’s knitted baby blanket.

I go through phases, and right now, I just haven’t been motivated to blog. The blog bug will bite again soon, I’m sure.

Making a Waldorf Doll

lincoln loves pip I’ve been occupied lately, spending all my spare minutes creating something for my son. :) I Love creating! And making something beautiful out of something simple is one of my many passions. I have a deep love for all things crafty, and lately, my focus has been on making things with yarn and/or fabric. I can’t stop knitting, crocheting, or sewing. It’s so soul nourishing, to take the moment and sit in a quiet corner, and just let my fingers go. It feels good. And it centers me. It takes me down a notch, off of the mommy buzzing mode, and lets me relax. Calm.

Have you ever heard of Waldorf Schools?

I have had an interest in alternative schooling long before I became a mother. The past few months have had me completely enthralled and amazed at the beauty of everything Waldorf! I LOVE WALDORF! With a strong focus on natural rhythms, outdoor play, creativity, healthy foods, and healthy relationships with their care givers, I find everything I read about it absolutely inspiring!! I have become a bit on the obsessive side recently, reading every book my library has on the subject, ordering a few books that the library doesn’t carry, and reading blog after blog on Waldorf schools, homeschooling, and Waldorf inspired daycare. I’ve always had a passion for children and nature, and feel that the two should be very closely intertwined. Daycare available today should be more natural and nurturing. I toss around the idea of one day opening my own daycare, allowing me to stay home with my babies (and them home with me!), while also having them be surrounded with other children to learn and play with. As I keep digging into everything Waldorf, I get so excited and can’t get enough! It is so in line with how I feel children should be raised!

And then came the dolls…

I came across the book Just Like Me Knits, while browsing around Barnes and Noble. The dolls in this book are beautiful, with brightly colored, long, and wild crazy yarn hair. The colors! I love the bright vibrant colors! But yet the dolls are simple, their faces very plain, and their hands and feet have very little detail. I fall in love with them instantly. That moment in the book store opens me up to the world of Waldorf Dolls (and there IS a Waldorf doll world, with many talented handmade doll makers, Facebook communities, and many books!)! When I stumble upon the book, I think the dolls are gorgeous…! Then when I notice they are Waldorf dolls(!!!) I have to learn more! (If you want to see what kind of dolls I’m talking about, just Google: Millie’s Dollhouse, Fig and Me, or Bamboletta! These are my favorites!)

Dolls for Boys?!

One thing that Waldorf educators and caregivers highly encourage is doll play, for both young boys and girls. Here is what Waldorf says about doll Play:

“A Waldorf doll is much more than just a toy; it’s a link between two worlds, the child’s and the adult’s. Children have a natural desire to imitate their parents’ behavior. They love to pretend to be doctors, teachers, cooks, etc. and dolls usually become the first props in their pretend play. Doll play helps to develop language and social skills, making children more creative and less aggressive. By dressing and feeding dolls, children also develop motor skills and coordination. Doll playing allows children to practice their future roles as adults, helping them develop love and care for other people. A Waldorf Doll becomes a friend, a true companion with whom a child shares her (or his) feelings, hopes, dreams, and adventures.” -NaturalKids.com

“A simple, neutral expression allows the child’s imagination freedom to see the doll as happy, sad, or angry depending on the situation and the child’s imagination. The more detailed the doll, the less it encourages the child’s imagination.”

After reading much about Waldorf teachers encouraging doll play for little boys, I decide to make one for Lincoln. The dedicated time, love, joy, and positive intention that goes into crafting this doll for my son is worth every minute it takes to make it for him. And considering that these 15 inch dolls are sold for $250 + $27 shipping, it is a no brainer to decide to make one myself.

Making a Waldorf Doll

I order a doll kit from Weir Crafts, borrow a few books from the library, and research on as Many Pintrest Boards as I can find! Knowing this dolls would take 25-40 hours to make, and cost a good penny or two on materials, I really want everything thing to look perfect on the 1st go! Plus, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to creating something, so I need to research everything before I begin. This is going to be my 1st and last doll! Hours and hours of research later, I finally start!

doll making books and material

The head is said to be one of the more difficult parts of making this doll well. There is a rolling technique that you have to master to make a head that was firm enough to withstand all the abuse of child play without going floppy. I roll and re-roll this head 3 or 4 times before I am satisfied with the firmness.

Making doll head

Another thing that I’d notice on other dolls is the placement of the eyes, nose, and mouth. A doll can look completely different (and pretty terrible) if the eyes aren’t placed correctly on the head. So I place pins, and move them around a bit until I feel happy with the look. I like the eye placement a bit wider and the nose a bit higher. The stretching of the doll skin fabric is interesting and not too easy. You have to make sure you bunch the fabric at the top and avoid any forehead wrinkles. Again, I just go for it, pin and re-pin until I feel good about a wrinkle free face!

makings doll face

Next, I pin and sew the fabric for the body and arms, which is by far the easiest part. The stuffing of the legs and arms are not that bad, you just have to make sure to use a particular technique so the doll won’t look lumpy. I take my time and make sure to stuff well! No lumpy floppy dolls here!

The sewing and hand stitching of the neck and arms is tricky. I learn the invisible back-stitch and the ladder stitch, and use both for connecting the head to the body. It takes time and is a process. I now understand the importance of a thimble. My fingers are poked and stuck and feel a bit callused after this part.

I next hand stitch the eyes and mouth. Again, I look up the correct techniques, as there have been so many dolls that are ruined due to a funky lopsided eye. You really need to be patient and take your time for this part. The doll face is everything!

Well after completing these stages of doll making I decide to introduce Lincoln to his buddy. He was still sans hair and clothes, but I’m dying to see how Lincoln will take to his doll…

I couldn’t ask for a better reaction!

Lincoln loves doll

I hand him the doll and Lincoln looks at me, then looks at the doll face, and then the biggest smile emerges on his face!! You can see that he is registering the face on the doll. It is so cool and exciting to see!!

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He immediately hugs him!! And flips him!! And stares at him!

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Then rolls on him and kisses him!! LOL! He is SO HAPPY!!

Lincoln doll intro

This is love at first sight! He carries this doll EVERYWHERE!!!!

Finishing Touches

A couple of evenings later, I sneak the doll away for a bit more work. I still have to attach the beautiful handmade wool yarn hair. I hand-dye the hair with black tea and chamomile to get different yellow tones, and use a particular wool yarn that is made to look like dreads of different shapes and sizes.

tea dyed yarn

As of today, the doll is still not complete. I  need to sew him some clothes and shoes. Its been about 2 weeks of having him around hanging with Lincoln and he’s really becoming a significant part of each day! We name the doll Pip, and Lincoln knows exactly who Pip is. I say to him, “Lincoln, go put Pip in the car” and Lincoln walks across the room, grabs Pip off the couch and walks to the other side of the room to put Pip inside his big red car. Then he hops in himself and pretends to drive. I can’t get over how much Lincoln understands at 15 months old. Amazing!!

Here is Lincoln, loving (and abusing) his (naked!) doll! It was so worth all 35 hours it took to make! :)

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If you need some help with making your Waldorf doll, I suggest you check out my Pintrest board! I post a ton of useful links! And feel free to ask me any questions! I’d love to help!

If you want to learn more about Waldorf Schools or philosophy’s I suggest you start with:

These Videos: Preparing for Life and Why Waldorf

And/Or these books: (check your local library!) Heaven on Earth, You are Your Child’s First Teacher, and Over the Rainbow Bridge

I hope you guys enjoy reading!

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Homemade Almond Milk

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If you’ve never had fresh, homemade almond milk, I suggest you stop what you are doing, head to the market, grab your 2 ingredients and get to it. My oh my, there is nothing like a freshly blended and chilled glass of almond milk. The carton in the grocery store has nothing on freshly made!

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Its unbelievably simple. All you need is:

1 cup organic almonds (unsalted!)
1 medjool date
pinch of salt
8 cups of water
Nut milk bag or cheese cloth (or even unused pantyhose <—I’ve actually doe that, it works perfectly!)

Here’s what you do:

Place your 1 cup of almonds in a bowl, and pour 4 cups of water other them. Let the nuts soak for 10 hours. (I usually soak mine over night.)
Drain the water. Place the soaked almonds, 4 cups of fresh water, pinch of salt, and the date (make sure to remove the seed!) into a blender, and BLEND WELL!! Next, place your cheese cloth in a mason jar or hold it over a bowl , pour the liquid into the cloth, and squeeze and “milk” your almond milk through the cloth. (I love that part!) After you’ve squeezed the liquid through the cloth you should have a wonderful quart and 1/2 of almond milk!! Chill it in the fridge before you drink!

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Rainbows in my Home

 

colofrul rainbow rugI have a new rug, and it makes me so happy. Color!! Oh, it speaks to my heart! I love color! I found this large beautiful cotton woven rug on super sale and could not believe my luck. It was just what I was looking for at a fraction of the price I was looking to spend.

rainbow bunting flags…And, I finished my little string of crocheted rainbow bunting. More happiness to add to my lovely home.

 

Crochet Rainbow Flag

crochet rainbow flagI’ve been MIA the past week. A lot has been going on lately! We’ve been working on this and that and prepping for a BIG CHANGE that is coming our way. Lots of excitement!!  I needed a break today, so I decided to whip out the crochet hooks (its been far too long) and make something pretty and bright for my home. Lincoln couldn’t help but touch!

crochet rainbowMore colors and many flags to come!! I’ve been wondering what to use all my old cheapy yarn for… HaPpInEsS!!! I love bright colors, rainbows, and flags! perfect combo! Yay for simple pleasures!

Love Notes

love note 3Everywhere I turn in our home, there are sweet little reminders of the love that we share with one another… our special moments. Brad and I have so many great memories. Early on in our relationship we would often leave random surprise notes to each other, with words of love or encouragement.

love note 4We have doodles on kitchen cabinets, and love notes stuck all over our fridge. I used to leave him doodles of us living our dreams together, traveling the country in an RV or hiding away in the woods in a little cabin.

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He would doodle our family of 3 and leave them for me to find when I was pregnant with our son.

love note 6You’ll often find messages and little stick figure drawings stuck to our front door or in the entry way.

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When I start doodling out  “I Love Brad” messages, I often find myself feeling like a little girl with a new crush! It’s sweet! Plus, the focus for the 30+ minutes it takes to create my love doodle is almost meditative, with the positive intention directed so lovingly on my partner. Its great therapy for my heart!

love note 7 My entire day is filled with a “Love High” when I find little unexpected love notes from my honey.

love note mugA couple of years back, Brad and I were gifted a Starbucks mug that you could doodle on. We had a great time creating it together, dreaming of the future, and putting little gratitude doodles all over it.  Now it’s the only cup I drink out of most days. Every time I use it, I’m reminded of how much fun we have together, our dreams for the future, and how much we love each other.

Tip: Write each other love notes… It only takes a moment, but the loving feeling every time you stumble upon one is so worth the effort. I’ll cherish our love notes forever.

love note 5signatureP.S. – Brad and I used to write letters to one another when we weren’t living together. Cheesy? Eh, maybe? But I’ll find one of those letters when I’m 80 years old and relive the moment and fall in love all over again. Old school romance is a big plus in my book!

Babe Lincoln Birthday Party

My son has turned one! Oh, how the time flies. I Just can’t believe a year has already flown by. We held a party with the theme that was fun and appropriate: Babe Lincoln!

bannerI took this snap shot as I was setting up some of the decorations before the party began.

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Here are a few of the things I pulled together to make our Babe Lincoln themed party special. I wanted to make a birthday ribbon decoration. I love the look of the pieces of cloth knotted together on rope, and everything blue looks great on Lincoln and his father, so I went with shades of blue. I also made 2 Lincoln scrolls with my favorite quotes: “The best way to predict your future is to create it!” and “In the end it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years!” I purchased the Lincoln’s Rules of Conduct from the History Store for $6 and it was great for decoration and a nice conversational piece. I was thinking about making my own, but for that price and with the fancy paper it was printed on, I didn’t mind ordering it.

books I asked the guests if they could bring books as gifts rather than toys. We have so many toys as it is. We received a nice little collection, each with a personal birthday message written inside the front cover, just for baby Lincoln.

honest One of my favorite decorations was the HONEST block letters that I hot glued pennies onto. I also loved the silhouette of my son that I painted onto a wooden circle so he could have his own face on a penny.

Lincoln Chalkboard copy corrected copy I love the 1st birthday chalkboard posters that are popular right now. After looking around and finding that the price tag for one was pretty steep ($50 a pop! yikes!) I decided to attempt making my own. I found 2 tutorials: Haus of Gerz and Chocolate and Carrots that were both very helpful resources as I was designing the poster for Lincoln. The 1st link has the most detailed set of instructions to follow, and the second link has great free font links if you are looking for variety. I enjoyed making my poster, and it took me about 3 hours to complete and only $4 to print!!

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I had this idea to do Pin the Beard on Abe Lincoln for the kiddos, but after second thought I realized all the kids were 1-2 years old and probably wouldn’t understand what we were trying to get them to do! lol! But I thought I’d share the idea anyway. I purchased the Lincoln poster from Amazon for 99cents!   Lincoln enjoyed pointing at the bright colors!

lincoln beards  While I was brainstorming everything “Lincoln” inspired, I came up with 2 ideas! 1st: Lincoln beards for all the party guests! And 2nd: edible Lincoln log cabins! The beards above were a big hit and were a lot of fun to wear. We took this photo early on, so we are missing a good half of the party guests. My brothers kept the beards on the entire party. It was great! I made the beards with black furry fabric and elastic bands that loop over your ears.

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The edible log cabins were really fun (and so yummy!) and the older kids really enjoyed building and getting creative!

build an edible lincoln log cabin There was one little boy at the party who must have made 3 different structures, one being about a foot or so tall! I used large pretzel sticks for the base, and Nutella and peanut butter as the glue, and dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, coconut shreds, etc) for the decoration. I couldn’t get enough of the pretzels dipped in Nutella!

rainbow fruit kabobs1 I also had rainbow fruit kabobs (red apple, mandarin orange, pineapple, green grape, kiwi, black berry, and blueberry) with yogurt dip! So bright and beautiful! Everyone loved them!

crockpot hot chocolate bar  I stumbled on the idea of a hot chocolate bar a while back and thought it would be perfect with the weather being so chilly. I found a recipe online for hot chocolate in a Crockpot, and then I came up with a few toppings that would be tasty: marshmallows, whipped cream, crushed gram crackers, chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon, and shredded coconut. SO GOOD! But beware, sugar overload! Ek!

I had other goodies to eat: I made edible smore top hats that were a big hit. I took a large marshmallow, a rounded pretzel, and dipped the 2 together in chocolate. They came out great! I wish I had remembered to take a photo before they were gobbled up!

Lastly, I painted a shirt for Lincoln to wear. You can purchase one here. I found the shirt with too little time to order and deliver for the party, so I sketched one out on my computer with Photoshop, and stenciled it onto a shirt.

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Here are a few snap shot of my little man wearing it and enjoying his party.

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We had an awesome time!!!!!!!! Lots of fun and laughter, love and smiles! I wish I could freeze time and keep this beautiful child in my arms forever!

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