Sunday, November 28, 2010

Trying my hand at four season gardening

We've been in our house here in Colorado since the 6th of August.  Having spent the entire summer traveling there was no time for gardening.  Since graduating college I've grown something every summer, even if only in pots on my front porch.  Well in late August I decided to just try and plant a few things.  It was actually quite a production as I had to clear the space to plant.  But we ended up with a tiny bed in the  corner of our fenced patio.   I'd read bits and pieces of Eliot Coleman's book 'Four Season Harvest' and so I knew I needed to get stuff going so it would be established by the time the days got shorter.  I've never planted in this part of the country so it's all been an experiment.  I know, I know I could have just called the local extension service but that would take all the fun out of it.  Besides it was a sunny, wonderful day, that day in August and throwing caution to the wind seemed like a fine thing to do.  The girls and I planted peas, green onions, carrots, chard, kale, spinach and greens.  We planted a small number of each just to see how things would grow.  Well the peas tried their best but just didn't make it to flowering before the cold weather set it.  Everything else was growing S-L-O-W-L-Y!  I covered the whole thing around early to mid October with 6 mil plastic and crossed my fingers.  I was a bit perplexed by my kale.  I'd never seen kale look like that and the leaves were a little prickly.  But it looked eatable... and it tasted eatable so I just watched and waited.  I checked a few days ago and realized they were in fact radishes.  I've never liked radishes.  Today we had our first harvest from that little garden (wish I had photos). Guess what it was?!  Yep radishes.  They needed thinning and so I took it upon myself to suck it up and eat 'em.  Turns out those small round globes of bright red on a cold, snowy November evening were quite a gift.  We also had a handful of spinach that was beyond delicious.  Even the four year old who abhors anything green right now devoured a few leaves.  The nights are getting colder so I covered the bed with a layer of leaves this afternoon.  We'll see how long this little experiment lasts.  It's been quite a bit of fun thus far.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The thing about furnace replacement....

is that sometimes you get to keep the boxes.  We had a grand time decorating our new box homes yesterday.  They've taken up residence (if temporarily) in our living room.  Our neighbor Mia helped us decorate.  

 Today we find ourselves making our boxes more homey.  Lillian has added hammocks out of play silks for her dolls.  Nonie is reading to her dolls.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Lantern Walk

We went on the school lantern walk this evening.  The children have been working on their lanterns for a couple weeks now.  It was a perfect night for the walk.  It was cold and crisp but not too cold and no hint of wind.  I do believe all the candles stayed lit.  This was the biggest lantern walk I've witnessed.  There were probably 40+ lanterns bobbing across the field in the dark night.  It was spectacular.   We also just happened to meet St. Martin out there who helped a poor, cold beggar by cutting his cloak in half and sharing it with her.  This story really impressed the children as they've been hearing it in school for the last week. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Help I'm addicted

We had a little ball felting party this week.  I have to tell you rolling felt balls is like eating peanuts. You just can't stop!  We started with white roving on the inside and surrounded it with the colored roving in a large, lose, round ball shape.  Then we used a large dab of dish soap and submersed the ball to get it wet in a bowl full of warm water.  We took the ball out of the water and worked it in a continuous rounding way until the ball was formed, then rolled the ball more vigorously to finish the felting. (Soap is the key, you want a pretty good lather)    

Did I mention we also dyed silks with Kool-Aid and food coloring at the same time?!  To set the colors I used both white vinegar and salt.  They seemed to run clear after a bit of rinsing.

The gift of generations

We spent yesterday with my grandparents, Lil and Nonie's great-grandparents.  My family is full of creative folks but my grandmother is one of the most creative of us all.  She has always been a jeweler, painter, illustrator, writer...... The list goes on and on.   My girls have not gotten to spend much time with their great-grands as we've always been across the country.  Well, no more!  We now live three hours away.  I feel like spending time with and getting to know my grandparents is a gift I can give my girls. 

When I was a girl my grandparents lived in Ossining, New York. They lived in a 100 plus year old home full of curiosities and quirks.  One of the most spectacular things about the home was the garden my grandparents lovingly cultivated for the almost fifty years they lived there.  

When I was a child my grandmother wrote and illustrated a book about that garden called 'Anna's Secret'.  It is about me visiting in the summer and finding little folks living in the garden.  It is a story my girls have grown to love.   The illustrations in the book are just gorgeous and I managed to get some copies yesterday. I plan on framing them and hanging them in the girls room.  

Clay models of the mice in the story. 

Little corners of my grandmother's studio.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Canning like crazy folks

How, you might ask would one make moving an entire household even crazier? Well by canning I'd say. Tis the season for putting food by. I have decided making a terrible mess in one's kitchen is the best way to welcome oneself to said kitchen. To date we've canned 42 jars of apple sauce, 14 jars of tomatoes, 14 jars of peaces and we've frozen 15lb of sour cherries and 15 containers of pesto. On the docket are pickles, more tomatoes and more peaches. We've been scouring the countryside for the best produce. And we've been lucky enough to find a wonderful little family owned apple orchard near by. The apples are delicious and better yet they are pick-your-own.
p.s. I feel remiss in not mentioning specifically how helpful Phil has been in this picking/canning endeavor. He is a champion cherry picker and pitter which for anyone who has ever pitted a cherry knows it is no small task. We also embarked on a 9 hour apple sauce canning marathon together. Canning with a partner in crime is always so much better! Thank you Phil.

Moving IN day!

Our truck arrived on a Friday. We'd spent the past few months wondering if all our stuff would arrive and what condition it would arrive in because our movers has been less than perfect. But you know what?! Almost all of it arrived and the damage was absolutely manageable. Isn't it funny how life always works out. So I've been a bit behind on the blog these past few weeks because we've been unpacking and unpacking. Did I mention unpacking?! It's nice to be in a house again.


We arrived in Colorado over a month ago. We were able to stay with kind family members while awaiting our own house. But we did eventually find ourselves in need of a toy or two. Thank goodness for used kids clothing and toy shops. This train became a favorite until that glorious day three weeks ago when our things arrived.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A visit with some 3000 year old trees

Our last stop before we headed 'home' was Great Basin National Park in Nevada. We arrived early and woke the girls for breakfast. This particular hike was only three miles but was at 10,000+ feet. I realize that isn't a big deal to many but we did have to stop more often than usual to rest. Lil for her part hiked the entire thing. Nonie hiked farther than she has ever hiked though we did have to carry her quite a bit.
These 3000 year old trees were significantly smaller than the giant old redwoods we'd seen earlier in the trip. The high altitude and low yearly rain fall attribute to the smaller size. These trees were incredably DENSE and take thousands of years to decompose. We saw dead tree pieces that were 5000 to 7000 years old.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


We spent two days at Disney Land and California Adventure with Phil's folks. The last afternoon my dear friend Colleen joined us. Highlights include the laser light show at CA and the hotel pool. We played hard and we slept hard.

The Coast Starlight to Disney Land

We took the Amtrak Coast Starlight from San Jose to Los Angeles down the California Coast. I must admit I was a bit wary of a 12 hour train ride with the girls. But I have to tell you it turned out to be a highlight of the trip for me. The scenery from the train was quite enjoyable. We rumbled by farms where we guessed at the crops growing there and we counted dolphins and seals along the coast. We met interesting folks in the dining car. In general the forced relaxation of 12 hours away from almost everything was great for napping and reading.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

We also stopped at Crater Lake

Crater Lake is one of the most breath taking places I have ever been. Phil and I actually startled the girls with our gasps of awe when we saw the lake for the first time. Phil took the plunge into the ice cold lake. I might have joined him if I had had my swim suit. He of corse is too cool for a bathing suit. Underwear was just fine for him. We took the girls down the steep hike to the lake. There is only one access point because the walls of the crater are so steep. All in all the hike was almost three miles. We ended up carrying Nonie a good deal of the way but Lil is turning into quite the hiker. Dipping our feet (or bodies as it were) in the cold lake at the bottom took the edge of the heat of hiking down. We also stopped at the lodge on the rim of the crater. Nice views there but my favorite point was the no climbing on the roof sign. Guess it snows a lot there.

Heading down the coast

We took a few days to drive and camp down the pacific coast to the Bay area in California. Along the way we visited with old friends, played at the beach, saw giant old trees and did some laundry.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Camping on the Olympic Peninsula

We spent a few days camping at Mora, a campground on the Washington coast. Mora is a stone's throw from Rialto beach which is at the mouth of a river running into the Pacific ocean. It has beautiful sea stacks and GIANT old driftwood logs.

This giant old tree - roots and all - had washed down the river and back up to shore at some point. It made a great place to climb and play.
Sully's Burgers in Forks WA is where I got a lovely case of food poisoning. I don't recommend food poisoning while camping.
Ah the 'Twilight' phenomenon in Forks WA. ( I would just like it to be known that I have not seen the movies or read the books). The first time I drove by this sign and saw girls posing with it I thought they were odd for posing by a fire danger sign. Then I actually read the sign and took a photo myself.