On any given day you are most likely to find us communing with the gnomes and the fairies Under The Old Oak Tree

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Four Seasons Exchange-Summer

 Recently, our family participated in our first seasonal nature table swap through Four Seasons Exchange. The directions were to send three to five items for a summer nature table made from natural materials with at least one of them being homemade.  Now that I know our items have been received by Jennifer and her lovely family of Syrendell, I am ready to share what we made and collected and sent here.

When I first signed up for the exchange, one of the first things I thought of was to make these Schernscnitte bugs of summer which I talked about before.  I also knew I wanted to put them in a stand of some sort.  When we were at the beach I found a lovely long flat piece of drift wood.  It was still dampish when we got it home so I dried it out in a low oven and using my hand saw, I cut a slot down in it for the cards to stand up in.  I then sanded the slot and polished the whole thing with beeswax polish.

The next thing we sent was  this little beehive and needle felted bees.  The hive was made by weaving yarn and twigs from our neighborhood that we soaked in water together, bending everything as I wove it to make a hive shape.  I then stuffed it with wool batting and needle felted on a base and a little door.
 We also sent them this needle felted rainbow.  W and I were inspired to make something that represented the beautiful big rainbow we saw a couple weeks ago.  It was such a beautiful arc going across the whole sky after an afternoon storm.  I decided to make this one out of wool.  W loves it and I think I'm going to have to make him one too sometime in the near future.

The last item we sent was this sand candle in a dish made from sand clay with some of the shells we collected at the beach.  We made two sets like this.  One to send out as a part of the exchange and one to keep for our midsummer celebration.

Jennifer tells me I should be receiving a package from her family this week.  We are very much looking forward to it!  This has been such a fun chance to develop some creative summer projects to share with another family and to see what others make for summer nature tables.  I really look forward to participating in more of these swaps in the future!

Yarn Along

Okay, after a week off I'm back to joining Ginny of Small Things in her yarn-along.  The past two weeks have been just crazy with sending out our Four Season Exchange items (more on that in another post) preparations for Midsummer, and making a rather involved doll as a gift and celebrating our third wedding anniversary yesterday.  Not sure why those special events in our house always seem to pile up on each other like that but it always seems to be the way of things around here.

In any case, I have not gotten much reading done around here for a while except for books I consulted preparing for Midsummer.

I need to get back to Wuthering Heights.  I just renewed it from the library so hopefully I'll get some good reading time in this week.  My other book perusals have been some knitting books from the library as I am starting to make my list of gifts to make for Christmas.  I've found some inspiration in Knitted Gifts: Irresistible Projects to Make & Give and Son of Stitch 'N Bitch:45 Projects to knit and crochet for MEN.  I found an idea or two in each that I am going to work on.  I have a post about planning Christmas gifts in the works too.

In terms of knitting, I've made some progress on all of my knitting. I did  a lot of knitting on our vacation and finished the first of W's socks except to Kitchener stitch the toe together (needed to look up the directions on that one again) but now that I am home and have my directions I can not seem to find that project bag anywhere. I'm going to have to check the husband's car again to make sure it didn't get left in there somehow after our trip.

I have two new projects to share with you today.  I know, I know, I wasn't going to cast on anything else till I got some projects off of the needles, but having one lost sock that is nearly finished counts right?  The first project, actually is not new, but I've not shared it before.  It is a large shawl in a worsted weight yarn that I have been playing with (not really using a specific pattern) to try some different techniques out.  It has gotten pretty big and I'm thinking  it will only get a few more rows before I cast it off the needles.  I'm looking forward to wearing this in the fall and winter this year.  I love this purple yarn (finally something that's not blue or green)!

The other project I started is a hoodie sweater for W that I have been planning for a while.  The pattern is a freebie from the craft store designed for that acrylic lion brand homespun that I remember knitting with a lot when I first picked up needles years ago.  Now, there is no way I would knit with that, but I found some light blue bulky weight wool (just a shade lighter than W's eyes) to make it out of.  I think it should be a pretty quick knit and I'm going to give it to W either for his birthday in November or for Christmas since it seems like it will be a pretty warm sweater.  Considering I just started the back of it and I haven't had a huge amount of knitting time in the past few days I'm happy with the progress.

W wants to share a book suggestion again this week too.  We have been reading Cat Goes Fiddle- I -Fee almost every day at nap time recently.  It has such a great rhythm and repetition of the animal sounds.  W likes to recite it along with me as I read it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Special Gift for A Very Special Person

W and I went back down to our church in our previous city to wish farewell to a very special person.  The associate pastor of our church is leaving to become a senior pastor at another church.  It is such an exciting opportunity for her and her new church is going to be very blessed to have her as their pastor.  Just as he did at our church, I have every confidence that God will work through Pastor L's many talents to accomplish great things for her new congregation.

Pastor L is a very special person to our family.  She has been both pastor and friend to me for the past two years.  I have learned so much from her as she led our women's book group and a class on John Wesley.   We also worked together on vacation bible school.  She has inspired in fellowship, study, from the pulpit and through her activism work. When W was three months old, she baptized him and welcomed me as a member of the congregation during a church service that she planned around his baptism.  Our entire family was so touched and the memories of that day are right up there with our wedding and the day that W was born.  It meant all that much more that this special heartfelt service came from a friend.

In some ways find it hard to go back to that church now without becoming extremely emotional.  So many of the people there have written on my heart and nurtured and helped to grow my faith.  They have been a village around my son and have cared for and loved him as they watched him grow during his first two years of life.  It is a dear, dear place in deed and I miss it terribly, though I think we have found a church in our new community, I still feel like that is our church home.  So, today W and I went to send off our pastor and friend. I am so glad that I did.  I cried all the way through the service and wished I had remembered a handkerchief or tissues.  I am confident that though she and I are both moving forward in our faith journeys and being taken to new places, that while she is no longer my pastor, she will continue to be a friend for years to come.

One thing that I loved about our women's book group at the church was that while we were discussing our readings and our lives and faith, many of us also had our hands busy with some sort of handwork projects.  I often worked on knitting, but I also worked on many felting projects during our discussions.  As a group we decided that we wanted to put together a gift bag of items we made for Pastor L as she moves to her next church.

And so, I created this doll especially for her.  The figure of a female pastor, baptizing a baby for a woman who baptized my son and who had a special gift of love for all the youngest members of our congregation.

I wish her, and her dear family all the best in their new church and want her to know how blessed our family has been by her presence in our lives!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Celebrating Midsummer

Cling, ding ,ding
The summer bells now ring:
There’s laughter on the hills,
The daisies show their frills.
Cling, ding, ding
Be welcome Summer King!

Cling, ding, ding
The summer bells now ring:
The shepherds pipe all day,
The lambkins frisk and play.
Cling, ding, ding
Be Welcome Summer King!

~Wynstones' Summer

W and I have been joyously singing this song all day.  He especially loves the "Cling Ding Ding" lines.   In our family Midsummer/St. John's Day is one of our happiest and most loved celebrations of the year.  W and I have been preparing for this celebration for the past week.  It has been a lot of fun since he was really able to assist with many of the preparations this time.

W helps his mama with the Midsummer decorations.

He is especially proud of these suns, which I cut from some watercolor paintings that W did this week. I oiled the paper to make it translucent with the intent of taping them up to our balcony door.   unfortunately the oil caused them to slip right off of the tape so we decided to scatter them on our table instead.  W likes to point to them and tell me that he made them and that they are beautiful.  They were inspired by this post from Seeds from The Yew Tree.

I also worked on several Window Stars especially for Midsummer in the colors of the sun.  They turned out so beautifully and I love having them hanging on the balcony door, though we may need to edit out the collection a bit as it's getting rather crowded, but they do really brighten up the room when the sun shines through them.  We are very fond of our stars and they have gone a long way towards making this new apartment feel like home.

I love this dragonfly!  Actually I love dragonflies in general and one made from window star folds is just so much fun.  Directions can be found here for the dragonfly, butterflies and flowers.

Other paper decorations included making more suns for the china cabinet and the yellow paper spirals we hung from the dining room chandelier.  Both of these were inspired by All Year Round which remains my go-to book for most of our festivals.  I especially love the explanations and background information this book gives on the festivals and their origins.

My other crafting projects for the day included making floating beeswax candles (which I wrote about last year) and a sand candle.  W supervised me in making these projects but I wouldn't let him too close to the  hot beeswax.  I think both of these are destined to become part of our family midsummer traditions.  W did help make the little dish that holds the sand candle from sand clay that we made together.  We had a lot of fun with it, but he kept trying to eat the clay...silly boy.  He never tries to eat regular play dough, so I'm not sure why he thought the sand clay was edible.

W and I also put together our summer nature table and W has been thoroughly enjoying exploring the various elements of it over and over.  I love how things on our nature table spark his curiosity and  imagination and are the jumping off point for many of the discussions during any given day.

Of course food is always an important part of our family festival, so W and I have been cooking too.  We made homemade honey butter and mixed in some basil from our garden.  It is so incredibly delicious.  We ate it on homemade bread and on corn on the cob and all just loved it!

For our bread, again, inspired by Seeds From The Yew Tree, I attempted to make a  beehive out of bread.  It ended up looking more like a coiled blob, but it is some of the best tasting bread I've made in a while, so I'm not going to complain.  Daddy was as always in charge of the grill which also served as our big fire element since we can't really have a bonfire in our apartment complex.  He grilled delicious burgers and some healthy-ish nitrate-free hotdogs.

While he was grilling W played with some neighborhood kids and I was able to visit with one of the moms who happens to be from one of the places I used to live a while back.

I didn't manage to get the giant bubbles together for this year so W and his new friend played with some bubble wands though most of the bubble solution ended up on the ground...but that's to be expected with toddlers.  W also really enjoyed trying to catch the bubbles I made with mine.

Then we came inside to eat, rounding out our feast with fresh green beans, watermelon and basil lemonade.

For dessert we had the same Summer Berries Bread Pudding I made last year (link to post with recipe).  It was as delicious as I remembered from last year.

W was especially fond of it and really wanted seconds.  Then again, this boy has never met a berry he didn't like and this has fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries in it.

W also celebrated Midsummer by leaving some dried wild blueberries in these little tea cups for the fairies, who should leave him something in return tomorrow morning.  He is really looking forward to seeing what they bring.

I also wanted to mention one other source of information that I have drawn heavily from this year for our Midsummer/St. John's Day celebration.  This post from Christine Natale has so much wonderful information about the day.  She even convinced me to watch A Midsummer Night's Dream on Netflix yesterday while W napped.  I ended up with this 1968 version instead of the ones she recommends since it was the only one available to stream.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, though it is quite obviously a very late 1960's production....oh the strange juxtaposition of the story, scenery and costumes! All the women except for Judi Dench are wearing these little mini dresses and knee high boots and the men's costumes are almost out of a period piece! Ha Ha!

Anyways, back to  Christine Natale's post.  I also really liked her explanation of the significance of St. John's Day coming six months before Christmas and preparing the way for Christ as well as her discussion of balance.  I definitely find that I am needing a bit more balance in my days right now and it is something I will be working on in the coming days as we look towards fall, winter and Christmas.  This has all greatly enriched my appreciation of Midsummer and made it more meaningful on a very profound and personal level.  It is not an aspect of the festival that I bring directly to W, but I know he benefits from my working on it myself.

Wishing you all the happiest of Midsummers!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Father's Day Tradition

Disclaimer:  If you are my husband and this is before Father's Day, STOP reading!

For Daddy's first Father's Day, W and I took these photos and framed them.

June 2009

Then last year we took these and gave Daddy a photo album to put the previous year's photos in each year thinking we would make this an annual tradition.
June 2010

I still love this idea, but trying to get a toddler to cooperate to take these pictures is one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do!  I think I must have two hundred out takes this year to get these three photos this year.  It wasn't easy before but wow does my two year old have strong negative feelings about taking these pictures!

In any case, here are  what I hope are the photos for this year:
June 2011

This is the second attempt since the last pictures I took looked okay on the computer and just awful when I printed them.


Simple Joys: Family Time At The Beach

My husband grew up in a bayshore town.  So, during our visit to Nana and Granddad's house this past week we had to make a trip to the town beach and then to a nearby ocean beach as well.  W has been very excited about going to the beach since I gave him the Gerda Muller Summer book last week.  This photo only added to his excitement, though I had to prepare him that the beaches we were visiting would not have cows.

The town beach on the bayshore was a real treasure trove.  The waves in the bay are much more gentle than the ocean waves and W felt comfortable getting closer to the water there.  Also a creek flows into the bay at these beaches providing some comparatively still water for W to play in as well.  Oh how he loved it!

Looking inland at the creek bed.

A boy exploring the beach.

Of course a boy has to find a stick!

Throwing rocks and shells pieces into the water was a favorite beach activity.

W loved playing with rocks and shells in the calm creek water.

We found that the bayshore beach was teaming with shells, rocks, beach glass, drift wood, birds and sea creatures.  It was the perfect place for a nature walk.

I'd love to share a few of our favorite finds with you.

A Tiny crab that had washed up on the beach.


This horseshoe crab proved to be very interesting.  
We found it on it's back like this and flipped it over.

We found that it's back had quite a few snail shells attached to it.

It was still alive so Daddy put it further down on the beach and 
we eventually were able to watch it start to swim back into the water.
We thought a whole large clam shell was a pretty good find!
The beaches on the bayshore were much better for shell collecting than the ocean beaches.

Duck footprints in the sand. 

Birds on the Bayshore.

Later that day we made a trip to the ocean beach.  We found relatively few shells there, but I was able to find some beautiful shell fragments, rocks and some beautiful pieces of beach glass there  all of which had been worn down and had edges softened by the waves.  I loved how much more powerful those ocean waves seem as compared to those on the bay.  I found as I walked along the beach I would stop, and look at the ever changing nature of the beach.  As the waves would come in around my feet, and then go back out, they would scatter the bits of rocks and shells on the beach into new patterns.  

I loved looking at this piece of seaweed with the ocean foam still clinging to it.

W was more nervous about those strong ocean waves and preferred to stay further up on the beach, though he did ask me to take him down to wade in the water just as we were leaving.

W would occasionally come up close to the water 
and then joyfully run back as the waves came towards him.

Note the little sand soul patch he is sporting here!

He loved walking around the beach with his shovel and bucket.  
He filled the bucket with sand and rocks and shells 
which he would then dump out and ask me 
to get him some water from the ocean.  
He took the ocean water up to the dry sand and would spill it all out.  
We did this over and over and over again!

Unfortunately, our beach day was a bit on the chilly side, so there were no bathing suits and Daddy would not even take his shoes off to stick a big toe in the water 
(which was warmer than the air).

 In the car on the way home, W told us that the beach was "great fun"!


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