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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Wild Colonial Boy

I've been working on this post for three days, but keep getting interrupted, but with no further ado, here's the post about my Wild Colonial Boy.  

W was dubbed the "Wild Colonial Boy" by one of our fellow visitors to Mount Vernon a few visits back and it really seems to fit him. Of course, the song Wild Colonial Boy is about an Irish boy who goes to Australia, but at our house we've changed the words for W to make it about a little boy who lives in Virginia.  It works well for us and W loves his song!  I sing it to him whenever he puts on his tri-cornered hat.

So, with that in mind, here are some pictures of our latest trip to Mount Vernon.

W was able to help sift some of the threshed wheat. 

And then we saw how to remove the kernels from the chaff.  
I didn't get any pictures, but he also got to shell black eyed peas which he loved!

Checking on the much loved lambs.

Our favorite lamb.  He's appeared on the blog here before, but look how big he has gotten!

Visiting with the adult rams.  W loves them too!

W looking at....

...the mama pig and her sweet 1 week old piglet.  Not sure if she only had one survive, or if they are keeping the others cool somewhere...but this little guy is CUTE!

And of course we have to visit with the oxen!  To find out if they've been pulling...

....the plow we found down in the fields.

 We took a walk through the garden down at the farm area.

 And saw them growing broom corn....

...and sunflowers among other things.

Of course no trip there is complete, unless we stop to play in W's favorite tree.  

Look how huge these roots are!  It's like a little house in there! 

 A perfect place for imaginative play!

Okay, W has told me what he was doing in the following pictures.  I love the versatility of a good stick as an open ended toy!

Going fishing

Marching with the fifes and drums.

Waving the flag!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yarn Along

I am joining with Ginny of Small Things for this weeks yarn along.  I missed last week, but I have been knitting and reading quite a lot since my last yarn along post.

I have finished my worsted weight shawl.  I would have made it a little bigger actually, but I ran out of yarn.  I still like it a lot though.  I have to block it still, but it's large enough that I'm trying to find a space to spread it out where it won't get disturbed in our apartment.

My other knitting over the past two weeks has been for W.  The back of his "school" hoodie sweater is almost completed.  He is pretty excited that I am knitting him a sweater to wear to his parent/toddler class this autumn.  Also, I found the missing project bag and was able to  weave the toe of the first sock I made for him together.    He's pretty excited about the socks and wants to know where the other one is.  I guess I need to get started on that!    He also told me he is going to wear the socks to school and to church.  I was sure that this sock was going to be much much too big, but it actually fit him very nicely with just a little bit of room to grow.  I'm certain that by the time summer's over and he's ready to wear socks again it will fit him very well.

For books, I am reading On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Homemaking as A Social Art by Veronika Van Duin.  I am just loving reading these Little House books as an adult!  They bring back so many of my childhood memories of reading with my mom,  going to the various sites that the Ingalls family called home, and countless hours of pretending to be Laura.  I can't wait for our trip out to Kansas in September to visit the Little House on the Prairie site.  At some point I need to get together a post on our plans and preparations for that trip.

I just started Homemaking as A Social Art last night.  Homemaking is an area that has been a bit of a struggle for me lately.  I've felt that many aspects of housekeeping seem to just drain me terribly, but I feel even more drained when they don't happen.  Our rhythm has also been all over the place recently so I think that's part of it. It's time for some inner and outer work in this area.  I love that this book is framing on homemaking as a creative artistic endeavor.  I have to admit I rarely view it that way, but this perspective really appeals to me!  I'm looking forward to reading more and using it as a tool to help me get some things turned around here.

W wants to make a book suggestion this week too.  He choose Gyo Fujikawa's Oh, What A Busy Day.  We love this book.  We typically don't read the whole thing, but we'll read a few pages here and there and W has the words to many of his favorite pages memorized.  The illustrations, as is always the case with Gyo Fujikawa's books are just beautiful.  This book has been one of my favorites since I was a little girl, and our copy is much loved and worn, as it is over 30 years old.  It was my book as a child.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another gift for W completed.

Okay, it seems I am off and running with this Christmas in July thing again this year.  Only 5 months left till Christmas and 4 months left till W's birthday.  I am starting to feel a little panicked over the whole thing, but that leads to progress right?  

Some of you may remember W's birthday sweater from last year.  Well, building on that idea, this year I decided to use the same technique to make a needle felted vest.  This turned out to essentially be a free project.  I used leftover yarn and roving and a wool thrift shop sweater that I purchased a long time ago for a different purpose.

I had felted this sweater a long time ago before we moved, thinking I was going to make it into a purse, and make W some wool pants out of the sleeves, but that never happened, so this week, I decided to make it into a cute little toadstool vest to give to him either for his birthday or Christmas.  (Because they are so close together, my plan is to make a few things and then sort out when I will give them to him later on).

In any case, The sweater had been a turtle neck and I was able to cut it up the middle and press the neck down to make a cute little collar.  I used wool yarn to blanket stitch around the edges.  The pockets were cut out of the sleeves that I went ahead and felted.  (I have plans for the left over bits of these too).  Somehow, hanging up in the picture they look a little wonky but i don't think they look that bad in real life.  If I decide they do, I'll have to remove them and re-stitch them on.  

In any case I very firmly needle-felted the toadstools onto the back and the pockets (before I attached them) and then sprayed them with water and used a hot steamy iron on both sides of the fabric to help set the design.

I need to get some more wool sweaters from some local thrift stores and try to make W  a few more of these jackets/vests.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Felt Toy Camera Tutorial and Pattern-my first completed Christmas gift for the year!

Today I finished my first completed Christmas gift for the year.  It is a felt toy camera for W.  W loves cameras.  DH and I both take a good many pictures, so he often wants to imitate what he sees.  For a while he played with one of  my old cameras, but I didn't like how he became obsessive with it.  I find that old cameras/phones etc do not make good toys at our house.  He also had a plastic one that his Nana gave him at Easter, but we don't really do plastic toys and it of course broke fairly quickly and was discarded.  This leaves him trying to take my camera of DH's camera when he wants to pretend to take pictures which is simply not allowed.  Yesterday, I came up with the idea to make a soft camera for him out of wool felt and wooden buttons and decided to create a pattern and tutorial.

Here is the pattern.

Supplies needed:   Three colors of wool felt
                              1-1 inch wood button
                              2- half inch wood buttons
                              a scrap of wool yarn
                              coordinating embroidery floss
                              wool batting or fleece

Step 1.  Cut out pieces of wool felt according to the pattern.

Step 2.  Blanket stitch three largest circles together to make lens piece.

Step 3.  Blanket stitch the two small rectangles to make flash.

Step 4.  Position and pin lens, flash and small circle to front of camera like this and blanket stitch into place.

Step 5.  Sew buttons onto lens and circle on the upper right corner.

Step 6.  Blanket stitch small circle of color A and other small wood button to the piece of Color B that will become the top. (sorry I didn't get any pictures for this step).

Step 7.  Blanket stitch the screen onto piece of Color A that will be the back of the camera slightly off center.

Step 8.  Pin and blanket stitch front, top, sides and back together to form a box.

Step 9.  Fill with wool batting or fleece. (I used bits from a wool fleece that I accidentally partially felted while trying to clean it a while back. Glad I held on to it. It worked great for this purpose.)

Step 10.  Finger knit a wrist strap out of wool yarn.  I think I made about a 8-10 inch piece with long tails.

Step 11.  Thread tails of finger knitting onto needle to push through side of camera.  Remove needle and repeat with other tail. Then tie the two tails together snugly on the inside of camera.

Step 12.  Pin and blanket stitch bottom piece onto camera.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nourishing Traditions (or an explanation for my absence)

I'm still here though things have been pretty quiet here on the blog over the past couple weeks.  I mentioned in my last post that I have been reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon recently.   This book has inspired such a huge change in our house.  I skeptically got this book from the library after listening to friends rave about it and traditional foods in general for the past couple of years.  They had some influence on our family for sure.  I've been cooking with coconut oil for a couple years now, I occasionally soaked my grains, was known to make bone broth a couple times a year and I had developed a healthy (if expensive) kombucha habit.  We ate whole grains almost exclusively at home and ate some produce from local farmers' markets, but we weren't really eating a real/traditional foods diet on a daily basis. W and I would grab fast-food lunches often if we were out and about (way more often than I ever care to admit) and I drank diet soda like it was going out of style. It only took me a few days reading and cooking from the book to realize how much this is revolutionizing the way our family eats.

At first my plan was to implement a couple things here and there, but the more I started preparing and eating these real foods, the more I craved them and the better I started to feel. It was like a fog was lifted.  Then, one day W and I were out and hungry and decided to stop to get some fast food.  BIG mistake.  I felt sick and sluggish for three days afterwards.  It's not an experience I care to repeat anytime soon.

I also started reading Real Food by Nina Planck and found it to be a wonderful companion to NT.  Honestly it has had a bigger impact on the types and sources of the foods we are now eating than NT has I think.  I've been getting more of our food from the local farmers markets and much less from the grocery store.  I found a local milk source at one of the markets.  It's not raw, but it is grass-fed, local, whole and unhomogenized (and since we always make the majority of our milk into yogurt or kefir, I'm okay with it for the moment).  I feel like it's the best I can do while I seek out a source of raw milk.  I've also found a wonderful meat and egg vendor that we are also frequenting along with all of our favorite produce vendors.

Okay, so on to the fun stuff going on in my kitchen now!  Just look at what I have going on above my kitchen cabinets!

One of my first projects was starting my own kombucha scoby.  It seemed to take forever, growing that first scoby from a bottle of GT Dave's, but,  I now have three jars of kombucha going and multiple bottles in a second ferment stage. (In the picture above the jars covered with clothes are my first fermentation stage jars and the bottles next to  them are the second fermentation stage). This makes me very happy and I can honestly say I don't even want to think about diet soda anymore.  For me, I think the kombucha made this such an easy and much needed transition.

I also have jars of cortido, pickles, ginger carrots, beet kvass, bean paste, and peach/tomato salsa fermenting up there.  The two jars on the right contain my sourdough starter.

I realized this past week that we are buying far fewer processed items and that I am now really making almost everything from scratch including most of our breads, tortillas and pastas.  What all of this has meant is that I spend way more time in the kitchen than I did previously and that I have to be way more organized about our meal planning and food preparation than ever before.  This is especially true for any foods containing grains or beans that need to be soaked or sprouted or meats that have to be thawed.  It has also meant that much of the computer time I do have gets devoted to researching information, recipes and tips than ever before (so less time for blogging).

The challenge now, seems to be getting the rhythm of all of this worked out so that I can do small amounts of food prep a few times a day to maintain it all and do the other things that I want or need to do done.  I hope within a week or two I will have that part sorted out a bit better.  In the mean time, I am enjoying the creativity and health of this new way of cooking and eating.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yarn Along

I'm joining with Ginny of Small Things again today for the Yarn Along.

I haven't had a huge amount of time for knitting lately, but when I have, I've been working on this large worsted weight shawl.  I really want to get it done and blocked soon so that a) I have it to wear once the weather gets colder and b) so that I can focus on really getting started on gifts for autumn birthdays and Christmas.

I have been reading a good bit recently though (and perhaps thus neglecting my knitting).  I started reading Nourishing Traditions recently and of course I have thus been spending most of my time in the kitchen cooking, and soaking and fermenting up a storm.  I was a bit skeptical going in to it, but I have really enjoyed the book and implementing as much of it as possible so far, I feel fantastic.  I think this will have to be covered in a later blog post at a later time.  If you are interested however, my friend Tiffany  at The Real Food Mom has been blogging about it from her own unique perspective.  It's been fun sharing thoughts about more traditional foods with her.  I've also been reading Nina Planck's Real Food and have found it to be a good companion to NT.

Otherwise in reading, I have set aside Wuthering Heights for now.  I'm thinking I'll go back to it this fall, but for now I am doing some reading to prepare for our upcoming trip out West to visit my parents.  While my husband, the Park Ranger is looking into all of the National Park sites between here and there, I'm excited about getting to visit the Little House on The Prairie Museum.  We've been reading the My First Little House books to W on a daily basis and he absolutely loves them and is also really excited to go see "Laura's House".  So, in preparation for the trip, I just completed Little House in the Big Woods and I will start Little House on the Prairie this evening.  We read all of the Little House books when I was a child and our family vacations often included visiting Little House sites.  I think Pepin Wisconsin is the only one we did not visit when I was a kid.  Once W is a bit older, I think we will have to do all of the Little House sites with him as well.  I so love sharing this with him already.

As I read, I'm looking for ways to make this come alive for W as we travel across the country to the plains.  I think this may have to be it's own post as well at some later point, but if anyone has any suggestions for resources or activities that would work for a three year old boy, please leave me a comment!


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