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.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A birthday and a family weekend

We have had lots going on the past few weekends, but this one we are enjoying ourselves at home. It is a nice and refreshing break to get some work done around the house and spend quality time together doing our favorite seasonal activities.

We couldn't find a good pumpkin patch near our house so we decided to pick one up at our local farmer's market.
We came home and began the carving process. This year the girls loved the part where they got to dig all the insides out.

They spent some time coming up with designs for the face and then watched as Daniel and I did the carving.
Today, Sunday, is Daniel's birthday. We've started out the morning with a big grits and tofu scramble breakfast and now they are watching a movie in bed. We'll let him spend the day how he wants while we cater to all his needs:) Of course we'll have cake later on. So, here's to Daniel--the greatest dad, husband, and friend a woman could want. Happy Birthday!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Family comes to Columbia

My family came to Columbia this weekend. My brother, Neal, and his family (Paige, William, and Parker) have never been to our house. They drove up from Baton Rouge to go to the LSU/South Carolina football game. My brother is a huge fan and actually got his tickets from a friend who happened to win them from a radio station. Since they were coming, my mom and BB came to spend the weekend with us all. Since we don't have much extra room, they rented hotel rooms a few miles down the road. We had a wonderful time hanging out on our porch and the kids played in the backyard. Thankfully the weather was perfect. We also went swimming at the hotel and watched the game Saturday night. Sunday we all (except Daniel who was sad to have to work) went to the Children's Museum.

Here's BB entertaining the kids at the Waffle House.
Neal and Daniel after LSU beat South Carolina. I love this picture. I think it's the only one I have of my brother and my husband. It's funny though because they both look kinda scared:) Daniel says it's because they are tired (it's 11:00pm at night) from standing and yelling for almost 4 hours and freezing cold since they didn't bring coats and it got really chilly that night. Plus the guy taking the picture was probably drunk and really close to their faces.

Painting a mural at the museum.
Parker loved this big fire truck in the museum.
Playing on the swingset in the backyard.

SC state fair 2008

We spent last Thursday evening at the state fair. We rode tons of rides over and over again. The girls were not afraid of anything. Ellen was tall enough to ride most of the rides and wanted to do them all! Arianna could ride a lot more this year but still had to wait patiently during a few. We had dinner and also treated ourselves to fair foods including cotton candy, two kinds of french fries, and lemonade! We stayed until 10:30pm, but the girls would have stayed all night.

On the ferris wheel with friends.
Yummy cotton candy!
On the skyride over the midway.
On the rocking ship. Ellen's choice for the last ride of the night.
The dragon coaster

Monday, October 13, 2008

Best of Carolina Beach

For Fall Break this year we went on our 2nd annual fall break beach trip with Lesley, Jason and Alder. They met us there from Richmond, Va. We rented a small house across the street from the beach. It was a beautiful weekend full of laughter and good times. We loved playing at the beach but it rained a lot. Rain at the beach is tough. I thought we could just put rain coats on and stay out in it. But really, with the wind and huge waves, it was almost impossible to enjoy. The girls managed to make the best of it and truly loved the new experience. The wind was so strong and the rain kinda hurt, but they were still smiling:) We took walks and went out when we could. Saturday afternoon we took the kids to the Children's Museum in Wilmington. Sunday it finally cleared up after we checked out! We hung out on the beach for the last few hours before heading back home.

All in all it was an amazing trip. The grown ups did lots of relaxing. We shared good meals that we cooked at home. We stayed up late playing card games and talking. It was so nice to be out of town and in good company!

I've uploaded the pictures to my Picasa web album to create a slideshow. I can't get the slideshow to slow down. So, if you want to read the captions you are going to have to click on the slideshow which takes you to the website and then click on slideshow. That will give you a big screen with the option to slow down the pictures and read my comments. Or you can just hit pause. Sorry about the confusion. I probably should have just posted the pictures normally. It's too late now. Enjoy!

ADDED OCT. 20: I've removed the slideshow because it was causing trouble to Daniel's computer. I've posted a link instead. So, click here if you want to see pictures or a slideshow of our trip!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New Paint

We painted the playroom last week. It was a team effort. Daniel pulled everything away from the walls and neatly organized the toys and shelves in the middle of the room so we could still get to everything. He also taped the trim so it would be easier for me to paint the top of the walls. Then I got to work prepping and painting the walls.

I had gone out the weekend before to pick the color. I wanted to use Home Depot's new line of "Freshaire" no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints. These are high quality paints that have no chemical odors. In addition, the packaging, color chips, paint can, and labels are made from recycled materials and printed with soy based ink. This line of paint does not have a huge variety of colors to choose from. This is actually a good thing for me since I am terrible at making decisions. It can take me weeks to decide on a paint color and it is a torturous process! I knew that I wanted some kind of earthy yellow for the room and there were only two to choose from. Perfect! So this is what it looks like.

The first picture was taken with the flash and the second without. It was really hard to get an accurate representation of the color with my camera and lighting, but you get the idea.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Swampfest 2008

We had another amazing outdoor adventure this weekend. This time we went to "Swampfest" at Congaree National Park. This is the same Natl. Park where we took the free canoe trip a few months back. The girls and I have also participated in their junior Ranger program. The girls went to 2 classes and earned badges and everything.

This weekend was an annual event that celebrated the local heritage and environment. The local church just down the road from the park had free carnival rides and gospel music. There were lots of vendors, hayrides, and nature programs throughout the day. We got there late in the afternoon on Saturday just in time for a guided nature hike along the 2 1/2 mile boardwalk trail. The guide was a volunteer who is an elementary school science teacher. Walking the trail with him was like walking with a talking encyclopedia. It was only our family and a local photographer on the hike so we had his full attention and were able to ask lots of questions. He pointed out edible plants and trees along the way, told us about the history of the environment, and treated us to a wonderful learning experience.

Congaree National Park has the "largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest remaining on the continent! Experience national and state champion trees, towering to record size amidst astonishing biodiversity" ( I just copied that from their website
since I'm tired and being lazy tonight.)

Here's our guide pointing to and telling us about the cypress and tupelo trees.
Here they are gazing up at the champion Loblolly pine tree. It was massive.

I'm posting this video so you can hear his voice and get an idea of the kind of detailed nature experience we were getting. He had just pulled up a rotting log and grabbed this salamander and proceeded to tell us all about it. It sounds like the discovery channel, doesn't it? He told us the Latin or scientific and common names to everything around.