Tuesday, December 16, 2008

knitting update

I took this picture of the girls tonight. Arianna wanted me to post one of her knitting since the last one was crochet. She is doing great.

Ellen's is getting longer too.
The girls started out a while back holding my hands while I worked. I showed them how to crochet a long chain. You can't do much with a long chain though. Recently they showed interest in learning to knit since I've been doing so much knitting myself. So, then I sat next to them while they worked on their own pieces helping them as they needed it. I have been working a few rows every once in a while just so that they feel like they are getting somewhere. If you've ever knitted before you know how long it takes. It is so slow. I want to help them finish this project. Finishing is key! I'll go back and fix the problems and probably clean up the edges a little with my crochet hook. I hope that they will wear their little scarves with pride.

I remember learning to crochet from my grandmother when I was in elementary school. Even though I didn't practice for years I never completely forgot how to do it. When I started again a few years ago it all came back to me. It's kinda like riding a bike. I hope that even if this is the only project they work on for a while they'll have fond memories of the process and be able to pick it up again one day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Crafty Christmas

We've been doing a lot of crafts lately. We will be giving homemade Christmas gifts this year. It's not a new thing since I've been making gifts for the past few years. I've knit hats, scarves, and wash cloths. I've also crocheted wash cloths and oven mitts. We've made ornaments too. This year the girls are very involved and love making things for people. I can't give away too many details so I don't spoil the surprise for the few who read this!

Here's what the girls and I have been doing all weekend. They have both learned to knit and crochet. I'll post a picture of these pieces later because they are already a lot bigger than they were when I took this one.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Kruidenier Christmas Bonus

I (Daniel here) like to listen to the RedBank Bar and Grill Show on WUSC Saturday early afternoon. Take a look at playlists and even consider a trial webstream here, although it is only possible to stream whatever WUSC is playing, not particular archived shows. I am not a huge country/folk/Americana fan but I am always intrigued and impressed by the performers "Uncle Gram" has on the show. He hand selects really great music. Maybe I am becoming a fan. The other day I was listening in the car and heard of a FREE Christmas concert featuring local legends and a few nationally known singer/songwriters on a Sunday evening. I took note.

We drove out to the Red Bank United Methodist Church Sunday evening and didn't really know what to expect. What we received was a wonderful array of Christmas songs performed by seasoned musicians. It was really nice. I note a few for you: Danielle Howle is a unique songwriter who we have tracked since we've been here. Check her out here. Watching her perform is a true musical experience. I won't attempt a description, but she is worth checking out. Mark Bryan, of Hootie and the Blowfish fame (a Columbia band), played some tunes from his more recent work, and last Sarah Lee Guthrie (daughter to Arlo Guthrie) and John Irion finished out the night with a never-recorded Woody Guthrie song pulled from the Woody Guthrie archives by his granddaughter. These last two performers had been at Carnegie Hall playing with Pete Seeger and "swung down" to join the festivities. What a treat.

Lots of beautiful guitars, beautiful voices, and the Christmas spirit. The girls and I "rated" the singers who were each allowed 2 songs, and I was happy that the line-up included many talented female artists for them to feast on. We haven't been to church much since the girls were born and I had a giggle when the offering plate was passed around for a local interfaith charity. The girls made a donation and then literally turned in their seats and watched others as the plates made the way back through the aisles. Something about it really intrigued them, as if they were thinking, "Holy cow, they just pass that thing around and folks dump money in it? What is going on?" They are familiar with generosity but not with wads of cash floating by. Aaah Christmas.

Here are Irion and Guthrie singing their lasts few lines of a song called Peace. It was beautiful. They persuaded the congregation to sing along.

Here's a picture of the Mark Bryan from Hootie and the Blowfish.

And last but certainly not least here is Danielle Howle:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Highlights

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of family and food.
On Wednesday we all went to see a local production of the Nutcracker. It was a great way to start the holiday season. Later that afternoon William drove down to spend Thanksgiving at our house. We loved having him here.

We cooked lots of food and shared lots of SILKNOG!
We had blueberry waffles for breakfast which the girls helped mix. Thanks to William for bringing the waffle iron and fixings!
I cooked a big dinner...my biggest dinner yet. The menu was all vegan and included Tofurky, gravy, mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, sweet potato casserole with ricemallow, stuffing, broccoli slaw salad, curry dish by William, rolls, cranberry sauce and my first ever homemade apple pie and brownies. It was all served on the china from Daniel's grandmother. This is the first time we've used it.

We did lots of reading together. The girls read to us...William read to the girls...Daniel read to the girls...Ellen read by herself.

The girls slept in the playroom so Grandaddy could have their room. Like always, Max finds a cozy spot on Arianna's sleeping bag!

On Friday we drove to Mountain CityTN to spend the weekend with my mom, BB, brother and his family. We met them at Hawksnest ski mountain for snow tubing. It was a blast. Sadly, my camera is having issues since the rechargable battery is dying and I haven't replaced it yet. I only got a few pics with my mom's camera. Maybe I'll post them later. Besides tubing we went to see the festival of lights and the christmas celebration in Blowing Rock, NC. Saturday most of us spent the day snuggled around the fire in the cabin. The cousins played in the hot tub on the deck and the dads took the kids on a very long hike up the mountian. We returned home today. As always we were sad to say goodbye to family but happy to be home. I'm sure you can relate!


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Winter Garden

We've taken all the plants out of the big garden bed now. We have had some hard freezes that killed our lettuces and chard. We did not cover the broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts or any of the greens last week for a few of those freezes and they are damaged. It's hard for these things to grow in all this freezing weather. Some of the greens survived--we'll see how long we can keep them alive.

In preparation for next year's gardening we have collected free manure and leaves. We were able to get a big truck load of composted horse manure from our friends Ben and Kristen at Five Leaves Farm. They have an agreement with some stables who dump manure at their farm on a regular basis. Ben generously loaded and delivered it to our house last week in exchange for dinner and Daniel's help on the farm.

Daniel and the girls went out last night and collected leaves from the neighborhood. The girls had so much fun playing in the leaves. They always talk about how we used to play in huge piles when we lived in Indianapolis but now we only have big piles of pine needles which are not too fun to jump in. Anyway, they took a tarp and raked huge piles of leaves into the back of our car for three loads of good compost material.

Basically we have created a huge compost pile in our garden bed. We are adding our kitchen scraps to the bed also. So, instead of having a separate small compost pile we're just mixing everything right into the bed. We will be mixing it all together either manually or with a tiller. We hope that by next year the sandy soil that we started with will be nice and fertile. At least it will be better than what we started with!

Monday, November 17, 2008


We spent the entire weekend doing some remodeling projects. First was the marathon (2 1/2 hour) trip to Home Depot to collect the supplies. We were trying to avoid making another trip but that didn't really happen.

The first 2 projects were replacing the insides to both of our toilets that had recently started to run. That was fun. I don't have a picture of this...you can get a good look at your toilet insides anytime. They are pretty easy to work with so if you have a leaky toilet this is a good beginner project!

Next was putting in a new marble counter and sink in the master bath. Of course the sink didn't fit exactly right. So I go back to Home Depot, return the sink and begin the process of ordering a custom top. After talking to the very helpful clerk I decided having a marble top that hangs over 1/2 inch more than I'd like is better than spending more money on a lesser quality top that fits exactly right. Then I go back to the front and buy back the exact vanity top I had just returned! That was Home Depot trip #2. We had to go back Sunday to find pipes to fit since the sink is now in the middle instead of on the side.

While I was gone dealing with the vanity, Daniel installed a new light above the kitchen sink and began putting up the new sheet rock in this spot by front door. We took down a piece of wall a while back so now the only thing left to do is replace the ceiling drywall and the hardwood floor.
Next was replacing the kitchen counter top. Cutting the hole for the sink was a major pain but Daniel handled it beautifully as I stood over him double checking all the measurements. :) We were both nervous about cutting into such an expensive piece but it turned out beautiful! I love my new counter! We also changed out some plumbing under the kitchen sink that you can't see, but trust me it sure looks shiny under there now:)

After (also notice the new light!)
What were the girls doing the whole time? They did help here and there holding pieces and tools. They learned a little more about plumbing and carpentry. Mainly, though, they were playing together. Here they are after clearing out a patch for their new fort in the back yard.

They still can't resist playing in cardboard boxes!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ellen had her 2nd art class reception last night. She was enrolled in a 6 week class at the USC art department called Drawing, Painting and More. They offer several different art classes for school age children every semester. Ellen's class worked with paints, pastels, paper mache, and clay. She loved going to her classes and especially loved seeing her work on display.

The assignment for this piece was to come up with a super hero. Ellen created the "Flyer Blinder." She fights by shooting out something that blinds her enemy.

This shows two pieces. One is her clay "monkel" the camel-monkey. The landscape she made for his habitat is behind it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Stuffed Creations and caught a lizard

We were having car trouble this week. I won't go into the exciting details :) but we had to stay home from activities for 3 days. The girls were sad to miss out on dance and their coop classes, but we found some creative ways to spend the hours at home.

You may already know about the "ball body wing shooter" and other aliens that the girls created a few months back. Since then, this character has shown up in lots of drawings. Ellen also had to create a monster and write a story about it for her writing class so she used her ball body wing shooter. Arianna had made up some of her own creatures. While we were home yesterday, we spent the day making stuffed animals out of the girls' creature designs. The helped me measure, trace, and stuff the pieces. Then they picked out the extra beads for the eyes and nose. They are very proud of their new creations and have spent time building homes, telling stories and acting out their day with these monsters. I'm going to repost some old pictures of the alien drawings that they did in August.

See if you can find the ball body wing shooter by Ellen

and the swirly monster by Arianna (on the top row). BTW, Daniel drew some of these aliens.

Today the girls came in so excited to show me the lizard that Ellen caught. It is the first time she has actually caught by herself. Wish dad was here to show him. We had to take a picture.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I love Chapel Hill and Durham

The girls and I took a road trip this weekend. Our good friends that we met in Columbia moved to Chapel Hill last summer and we have been planning a visit for several months. We finally made it happen and we had a blast. We stayed at my friend Jen's house on Saturday night. We made a stop at Trader Joe's since it is the best grocery store ever! I wish we had one here, or at least a Whole Foods. Anyway, when Jen and the girls lived in Columbia, we used to spend entire afternoons and nights hanging out together. We have missed them and were so glad to get some good quality time at their new house.

So after our visit in Chapel Hill we drove over to Durham to see our old and dear friends the Morrisons who we know from Boone. We have known these guys a long time. In fact, I was telling the girls that Julian and Madeline (the oldest two) are some of their oldest friends. We starting having playdates when they were babies. We have remained close even after moving from state to state. In fact, our friendship has grown stronger through the distance and years. Anna and family treated us to wonderful home cooked meals (including an awesome apple pie that I plan on trying soon) and lots of great play time. The kids all got along so well and Anna and I got to share tips and ideas on homeschooling, vegan cooking , mothering, green cleaning, etc. We have a lot in common so it was fun to have so much quality time together. It was hard to leave their house on Monday morning.

Even though we were sad to say goodbye, I was so happy to get a big hello and hug and kiss from Daniel when we got home. I missed him! I hate to travel without him but I'm thankful that I can go and be with some of my closest friends. It is good for my soul.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween

Our homeschool Coop had a halloween party today. We all brought food, games, decorations, and treats to share. Ellen and Arianna have been so excited about it all week. I am happy to be a part of this wonderful group of families. Everyone is very friendly and willing to help out. There were about 35 kids involved and their ages ranged from 2-16. The games included spider ring toss, musical chairs (Ellen's favorite), pin the wart on the witch, pumpkin painting, guess the weight of the pumpkin and a few more I can't think of. I love seeing all the kids dressed up and playing together. They love it!

A close up of the butterfly and fairy

Pumpkin painting

The food! I wanted to get a shot of my spider web cake. It looks pretty doesn't it?! Well, when I cut into it I realized that it wasn't cooked all the way through and a little gewy on the inside!!! It didn't matter too much since there wasn't any egg, but I was disappointed. I baked this same cake (decorated differently) for Daniel's birthday last week and it came out awesome. Oh well, at least it made the table look festive. It did get eaten so I guess it wasn't terrible.

Daniel and I worked together on the costumes this year. We used some pieces out of our dress up area for Arianna's and I just painted her face and sewed new elastic on her wings. Ellen's was a little more challenging since we didn't have the kind of butterfly wings we needed:) So Daniel took apart some of our old wings (for some reason we have tons of wings), reshaped them into a new form, and taped them together. He also helped her make the antenae out of pipe cleaners, puff balls and a black head band. Then I took Ellen to Hobby Lobby to pick out fabric for the wings. She fell in love with this rainbow chiffon and so I went to work. I have a new love for my old sewing machine so it was a pleasure to work on this project. (BTW, I've had that machine for years. It was used when we got it and even though it came with the manual I never actually took the time to read it so I was having lots of problems. I almost threw the machine out the window a few times after the bobbin got stuck. Anyway, I'll post more about my new love for my sewing machine later.) I painted faces and braided hair just to add to the look.

Ellen is in the writing class with other 6-12 year olds. Here they are getting ready to read their stories aloud. We skipped science, critical thinking and recorder today for the party.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Last summer harvest

These zinnias were blooming all summer. I can't tell you how much I/we enjoyed these cut flowers inside and growing in the garden outside. They will definitely be grown next year.
We pulled the last of the summer veggies last weekend. It was just in time as we are expecting a freeze tonight. We still have a few tomatoes, beans, okra and peppers out but we're not too worried if we lose them. It's just that time of year. We did pull up tons of basil and I've processed about 10 cups of pesto! That's basically all we have in our freezer.

Most of our fall/winter greens are growing great. We eat fresh salads and cooked greens daily. LOVE IT! I guess my tastes have changed, right mom? I can't imagine loving greens this much as a child, but they are literally my favorite part of dinner now. What's wrong with me:) I love the raw kale salad with vinegar and oil and slightly cooked collards with sauteed onions and tamari sauce. Here's a close up of the swiss chard and lettuce. We have red leaf, romaine, and butter crunch scattered in different beds.
More lettuce and collards here.
Here's a shot of Daniel watering from our water barrels. We were able to go the whole summer without using city water. He is watering the broccoli patch. Down below that is another bed of greens some started from seed and then some transplants.
In this picture you can see some sweet potato vines, then brussel sprouts on the left, red cabbage on the back right, and lettuce in the center. We've never had success with cabbage and never tried brussel sprouts. They are looking good so far.

This is from last week. It shows the green beans, sweet potatoes, yellow tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers. Our green beans look great but I'm afraid we're going to lose them tonight.

Here's our version of Angelica's (our favorite restaurant in Boone, NC that has changed names and menu). It's a Harvest Bowl. There's cornbread on the bottom. Then seasoned black beans piled on top. There's also boiled sweet potatoes and cooked greens packed on the sides. It's topped with sliced avocado and tomatoes. A dab of vegan sour cream is great on top.